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Cats & Coffee: Panthers Kick Off 2017-18 Season

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

Good morning and welcome to "Cats & Coffee," a weekly segment presented by Community Coffee in which we get you caffeinated with an exciting look at the week ahead for the Florida Panthers.

Hockey. Is. Back.

The Florida Panthers will kick off their 2017-18 campaign this week with a home-and-home series against their Atlantic Division foe and intrastate rival, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Panthers will head over to Tampa to open the season at Amalie Arena on Friday, Oct. 6, and then return home Saturday for a rematch on Oct. 7 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise.

"They're a skilled team and they play fast," Panthers forward Colton Sceviour said. "They're similar to us, coming off a year where they didn't have the kind of success they had envisioned. We know they're going to be ready to go, ready to jump right in and prove they are better than last year, as are we."

Want to watch Friday's season opener surrounded by Panther fans?

We've got you covered.

Florida's first official road watch party will take place at Bokamper's Sports Bar & Grill Plantation on Friday. In addition to all of the action on TV, there will also be special giveaways and games for everyone in attendance.

You can RSVP for the event HERE.  

Here's everything you need to know for the week ahead…

THE GAMES

Friday: at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30 p.m.

The Panthers will hope that their preseason success against their cross-state rival carries over into Friday's regular season opener at Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay. Florida won all three of its matchups against the Lightning this preseason, winning those games by a combined score of 13-6. In this contest, look for Jonathan Huberdeau, who led Florida with six points during the preseason, to lead the Panthers to victory, as the 24-year-old winger has tallied 16 points (6-10-16) in 19 career games against Tampa Bay.

Panthers vs. Lightning in 2016-17: 2-1-1

TV: FSF

Radio: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beaches); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast)

Saturday: Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:00 p.m.

Less than 24 hours after their game in Tampa Bay, the Panthers will celebrate Opening Night at the BB&T Center on Saturday against the Lighting. Look for the Panthers to have the edge in the goaltending department in this contest, as either Roberto Luongo or James Reimer will start in net for the Panthers. One of the NHL's premier one-two punches between the pipes, Luongo and Reimer each finished last season with a save percentage of .915 or higher. Florida was 6-6-2 in the second half of back-to-backs in 2016-17.

Panthers vs. Lightning in 2016-17: 2-1-1

TV: FSF

Radio: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beaches); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast)

PUCKS FOR BUCKS

Panthers alumni played against first responders of Coral Springs in the second 'Pucks for Bucks' charity hockey game at the BB&T Center on Sunday.

Tomas Fleischmann, Shawn Thornton, Radek Dvorak and many more suited up for the Panthers alumni squad, giving fans a chance to see some of their all-time favorite players in action once again.

"Every time you do something like this, it brings the good out of everybody," said Dvorak, who ranks seventh on Florida's all-time scoring list.

All proceeds from the event went to the Coral Springs Community Chest. 

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: We're all smiles after the Pucks for Bucks Charity game. pic.twitter.com/Lz2uFB9S7U

MILESTONE WATCH

- Jonathan Huberdeau is two points shy of 200 for his career.

- Jared McCann is two games shy of 200 for his career.

- Aaron Ekblad is four points shy of 100 for his career.

- Aleksander Barkov is two assists shy of 100 for his career.

- Roberto Luongo needs two wins to surpass Curtis Joseph for fourth place on the NHL's all-time wins list with 455.

CATS IN THE COMMUNITY

Tweet from @FlaPanthersCARE: The #FlaPanthers Foundation is proud to support today's Alumni Hockey game with the Coral Springs Community Chest. pic.twitter.com/YrUiE6i6W7

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: We're here tonight for #TheProsBowl�� benefitting Hurricane Relief at #KingsDoral pic.twitter.com/EemiKFIKMl

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: "Our players are really good about giving back," - #FlaPanthers Alum & VP Shawn Thornton. #TheProsBowl pic.twitter.com/xmHbYDsaap

 COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)

- The Panthers have trimmed their training camp roster to 23 players.

- Jonathan Huberdeau and Keith Yandle recently teamed up with David "Big Papi" Ortiz and Ray Allen to raise money for hurricane relief at "The Pros Bowl" event in Doral.

 "It means a lot," Yandle said of the fundraiser. "Anything you can do to help out, especially with the hurricane being so fresh in our minds. It's a great thing to come here, especially with two Boston legends like Big Papi and Ray Allen. It's pretty cool for me to be here."

- What is #OneTerritory? We spoke with Panthers President & CEO Matthew Caldwell to find out.

- "Inside The Panthers: Back To Work" will premiere on FOX Sports Florida on Oct. 2

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