Cats & Coffee: Panthers, Lightning Battle at BB&T Centerby Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com
Good morning and welcome to "Cats & Coffee," a weekly segment, presented by Koffee Kult, in which we serve up an exciting look at what's on deck for your Florida Panthers. Like our friends at Koffee Kult, this forecast serves up only the best -- so sit back, sip and enjoy our latest brew of news, notes and information!
The Florida Panthers are happy to be back at BB&T Center.
After opening up their preseason with five road games, the team will take the ice at home for two games this week against the Lightning on Tuesday and Thursday. From there, the cross-state rivals will travel back to Tampa to close out the preseason at Amalie Arena on Saturday.
"So excited," Panther center Henrik Borgstrom said of the homestand. "It's going to be nice."
Borgstrom scored the opening goal in Florida's 6-0 win over the Dallas Stars in Tulsa, Okla. on Saturday in the second-annual Tulsa Classic. The decisive win was not only the team's first of the preseason, but also first under new head coach Joel Quenneville, who was hired in April.
"I really liked how we played tonight," Quenneville said after the game. "I think we were very efficient in a lot of ways. In the first period they had some chances, but after that we had the puck more than we've seen. "We had some nice finish around the net. Nice to see Grecs [Panthers forward Anthony Greco] get a couple nice goals. The guys were really supporting the puck better than we've seen in the past. We had more pace and I thought we checked well."
Greco led the Panthers with two goals against the Stars. Owen Tippett, Noel Acciari and Mike Hoffman also found the back of the net, while Sam Montembeault pitched a 30-save shutout.
Over three preseason appearances, Montembeault, who is fighting for the backup job behind Sergei Bobrovsky with the Panthers this season, has turned away 90 of 95 shots (.947 percent).
"I wish it was the real season so I could get a real shutout," said Montembeault, a third-round pick in 2015 "I felt pretty good once the game started. I saw a lot of pucks. The guys did a good job keeping them away from me as much as possible. It was a great night all around for the team."
After closing out the preseason this week, the Panthers and Lightning will kick off the 2019-20 regular season against each other in Tampa on Oct. 3. Two days later, the Cats will welcome the Bolts to their home barn in Sunrise to drop the puck on their own home opener on Oct. 5.
"Get to see some home games," Quenneville said. "Get to see a lot of Tampa Bay."
Here's everything you need to know for the week ahead…
Tuesday: Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:00 p.m.
The Panthers will take the ice at home for the first time this preseason when they host the Lightning at BB&T Center on Tuesday. After being shutout in each of their first two preseason games, the Bolts have since picked up a point in each of their last two outings, including a 5-4 shootout loss to the Nashville Predators on Saturday. In that defeat, Carter Verhaeghe scored a pair of goals, Cameron Gaunce had a goal and an assist and Scott Wedgewood made 39 saves for Tampa. For the Panthers, watch out for Anthony Greco in this matchup if he plays. Fighting for a roster spot this season, the 25-year-old forward has tallied three goals over his last two games, including a pair in Saturday's win over Dallas. In 2018-19, he reached career-bests in the AHL with goals (30), assists (29) and points (59), while also playing one game with Florida.
Radio: Stream HERE
Thursday: Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:00 p.m.
The Panthers and Lightning will continue their preseason series when the two teams battle once again at BB&T Center on Thursday. Tampa, which won the Presidents' Trophy but lost in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, took two of three games against Florida in the 2018-19 preseason. Nikita Kucherov, who won the Hart Trophy last season after posting 41 goals and 128 points in 82 games, has only taken the ice once so far for the Lightning in the preseason, scoring two goals in a 3-1 win over the Predators on Friday. For the Panthers, look out for Brett Connolly in this game if he plays. The veteran winger has gotten off to a hot start in the preseason, posting three points (two goals, one assist) in two games. Joining Florida on a four-year deal this summer, the 27-year-old is coming off a season in which he set career-highs in goals (22) and points (46) with Washington, which he also won a Stanley Cup with in 2018.
Radio: Stream HERE
Saturday: at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:00 p.m.
After playing twice in Sunrise, the Panthers will head to Tampa to wrap up their preseason at Amalie Arena. The Lightning were the best home team in the NHL last season at 32-7-2. Through two games on home ice so far in the preseason, they are 1-1-0. As the final tune-up before the regular season, we could see an epic goaltending battle in this one. For Tampa, Andrei Vasilevskiy, who is coming off a Vezina Trophy-winning season in which he went 39-10-4 with a .925 save percentage and six shutouts, could be between the pipes. Sergei Bobrovsky, meanwhile, is entering his first season with the Panthers and could also take the ice after inking a seven-year deal with the team on July 1. The only active two-time Vezina Trophy winner in the NHL, he was the driving force behind Columbus' four-game sweep of the Bolts in last year's playoffs, allowing just eight total goals during a series that sent shockwaves throughout the entire league. Is Bobrovsky still a boogeyman in Tampa's closet? There's a good chance we find out this week.
Radio: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); NHL Mobile App
STH OPEN HOUSE
Season Ticket Holders will have a chance to get a head start on the 2019-20 season.
A week before the home opener against the Lightning on Oct. 5, the Panthers are holding a special Open House for just for their STH at BB&T Center on Sept. 28. From 12-2 p.m., STH are invited to tour the locker room, sample new food items and, of course, shop in Pantherland. To RSVP, click HERE.
We look forward to seeing you there!
MATHESONS MATCH DONATIONS
In an effort to help raise funds for Hurricane Dorian relief efforts in the Bahamas, Mike and Emily Matheson have partnered with UNICEF USA to start their own fundraising campaign.
As part of their commitment, the couple has pledge to match donations up to $25,000.
"We just want to be able to help as much as we can," Mike said. "We're just really hoping that people feel the same way and give, too. I just want to be able to get it to as many people as possible. The Panthers have been really generous with helping me do that. That's been a big benefit. When you're a little more in the public eye, you need to be able to give back."
To donate, please click HERE.
FLEXING IN FLORIDA
It's easier than ever to fit Panthers hockey into your busy schedule.
With the recent introduction of the organization's brand-new "Flex Plans," fans can now create their own ticket package while also saving up to 27 percent on single-game ticket pricing. The rules for creating a plan are simple, with the main one being it must consist of at least 20 tickets.
"With today's pace of life, we're excited to be able to offer fans customizable 'Flex Plans,'" Panthers President & CEO Matthew Caldwell said in the team's official release. "Experience Panthers Hockey your way or catch every game with a full-season ticket package."
There are currently seven pre-made plans to choose from, but fans are also encouraged to take a swing at designing their own. I personally gave creating a plan my best shot earlier this month, crafting "The Jameson Plan" built around big games, promo nights and scheduling tendencies.
If you're looking for some inspiration, you can check out my plan HERE.
To view all of the pre-made plans, begin building your own or to learn more about the perks of "Flex Plans," visit FloridaPanthers.com/FlexPlans or grab your phone and dial 954-835-7825. For season tickets and all other inquiries, please check out FloridaPanthers.com/TicketCentral.
CATS CLIP OF THE WEEK
New Panther Brett Connolly has already lit the lamp twice in the preseason. Welcome to the Territory!
Video: FLA@MTL: Connolly taps in equalizer on the power play
CATS IN THE COMMUNITY
Vincent Trocheck joined last week's episode of the Territory Talk podcast to chat about his busy summer, excitement for the upcoming season and what he expects from Aleksander Barkov in 2019-20. Also, Jameson Olive and Katie Gaus looked back at the first days of training camp.
COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)
-- Want to Play Poker with the Panthers? Don't Miss This Year's "Ice & Dice."
-- The Time is Now for the Panthers.
-- Registration is open for this year's Viktor E. Dash.
-- Miss anything from Florida's 6-0 win in Tulsa on Saturday? Catch up with 5 Takeaways.
-- Frank Vatrano penned a postcard to fans before taking the ice in Tulsa.
-- Grateful Dead Night is back!
-- Brett Connolly is getting cozy with the Cats.
-- Dale Tallon and Joel Quenneville are excited to reunite with the Panthers.