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.
The time for tune-ups is almost over.
The Florida Panthers will conclude their preseason this week with two contests against a pair of tough Eastern Conference opponents - their last on-ice tests before finally dropping the puck on the 2016-17 season.
The Panthers will start the week looking to avenge an earlier preseason loss suffered in Tampa Bay when they host the Lightning on Thursday at the BB&T Center. The intrastate rivals will meet four times during the regular season and are both expected to contend for the Atlantic Division title.
"You're just trying to get into the flow, just trying to feel out different situations," backup goaltender James Reimer said after last week's game at Amalie Arena. "You're just trying to see the puck, trying to get used to it. It was just another good exhibition to help us get ready.
"You want to play hard. You want to get back into it. You don't want to be feeling your way into games. You want to be going 100 miles per hour right from the get go."
If you want to come out and show your support in the team's final preseason game at home, tickets can be purchased here.
From there, the Panthers will travel to the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., for a game against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. The game will be broadcast live on FOX Sports Florida at 7:30 p.m. ET and be played at Tate Rink, the home of Army Hockey.
"We are honored to have West Point host the Panthers for this preseason game," Panthers owner Vincent Viola said in a statement. "The values and character taught at West Point are ingrained in our team culture and the philosophy of our organization."
The preseason game at West Point marks the Panthers fourth visit to the Military Academy, having previously visited West Point for team-building trips in 1995, 2007 and most recently in 2014.
OPENING NIGHT SPECIAL
The Panthers' new-look logo will make its regular-season debut when the New Jersey Devils visit the BB&T Center for Opening Night on Thursday, Oct. 13.
In order to make sure that you look the part, the team is offering a special ticket deal that is guaranteed to add at least one item of clothing featuring this fresh, new logo to your wardrobe.
For just $25, you receive a special-edition t-shirt -- complete with the team's new crested cat -- along with a ticket to Opening Night when the Panthers will unveil their 2015-16 Atlantic Division Championship banner.
COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)
- Keith Yandle, who signed a seven-year deal with the Panthers this summer, is already feeling at home in South Florida.
"We've been down here for over a month, with school starting early down here," said Yandle, who has settled in to a home in Fort Lauderdale. "We've gotten to do pretty much everything we wanted to do. There's lots to do and we're excited for the new adventure."
- The Panthers are ready to embrace the pressure of increased expectations following a season in which they set franchise records for both wins (47) and points (103).
"We're ready to get going," Bjugstad said. "I'm honestly getting sick of playing shinny hockey. I'm ready to get going and play some real hockey, get training camp going. We'll have a hard working training camp and then be ready to go."
- The City of Fort Lauderdale will host a Florida Panthers Pep Rally on Monday, Oct. 10 at 4 p.m. at Huizenga Plaza, located at the corner of Andrews Avenue and Las Olas Boulevard in Downtown Fort Lauderdale.
"The City of Fort Lauderdale is excited to partner with the Florida Panthers to kick off what promises to be an action-packed season of NHL Hockey," said Mayor John P. "Jack" Seiler. "We invite everyone to join us at the Pep Rally in downtown to cheer on the Panthers and wish them well as they begin their quest for the Stanley Cup."