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Countdown 1: October 16 vs Tampa Bay

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
The Panthers 2010-11 season is quickly approaching and with that, is taking a look at the top ten questions, players to watch and games of the season on a countdown to the home opener on October 16th against Tampa Bay. We'll unveil one of the top ten on a rotating basis each day to help fans get ready for what hopes to be an exciting season.

In today's topic, we take a closer look at the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on October 16th in our final installment of the Top 10 Games this season.

It's here.

The home opener of the season.

But really, in all this counting down to opening night, what did you think would be number one? That's because the Home Opener is so much. Even though the team has already played three road games to start the season, the Home Opener is really the kick off of the season. It's the "Let's Play Some Hockey". For most Panther fans, it's the time to kick off the dust of the jerseys and the cow bells, and the re-aqaintance of hockey friends as they root on their team for the first time in a long time live!

The Panthers take on the Lightning tonight and we don't think there's a better opponent to kick off the home schedule than the cross-state rivals.

Tampa comes in undefeated (3-0) and with all that offensive fire power, it's no wonder why they are where they are. Players like Steve Stamkos (four goals and six points), Martin St. Louis, captain Vincent Lecavalier, Steve Downie, Ryan Malone and new acquisition Simon Gagne all can light the lamp with ease. But the Panthers will be a good test themselves.

Coming off a road trip (1-2) in which the team played a great all-around game in each of the three contests, Florida's defense will and should be up for the task. Led by Tomas Vokoun, the defense has allowed just two goals a game. And while the bottom lines have provided the offense, expect Stephen Weiss, David Booth and Michael Frolik to have an impact.

We also can't forget about the revamped Game-Day Experience. With the new game presentation, inflatables and more, there will be a lot to do and take in in the first game of the season.

The fans and the team should be juiced. It's the first home game of the season. Drop that puck!
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