Who's ready for a rivalry?
The Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning will have a chance to ramp up their intrastate-fueled feud in the coming weeks, as the teams are set to clash in four of their next five games, including a pivotal home-and-home series to open the 2017-18 season.
In 126 career regular-season meetings between the two Sunshine State clubs, the Panthers currently own a 64-39-10-13 all-time record against the Lightning.
Florida posted a 2-1-1 record against Tampa in 2016-17.
"Any time you play against a team that many times it helps build that fuel, that hatred," Panthers forward Colton Sceviour said after Saturday's practice at the Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs. "Obviously the proximity is also a big thing. We have three games against them now, one game off, and then back at it for two more to start the season. We're obviously going to get that [rivalry] going right off the bat."
In their first meeting of the preseason, the Panthers defeated the Lightning 4-2 at Amalie Arena on Sunday. In that game, Jamie McGinn, Evgenii Dadonov, Radim Vrbata and Jonathan Huberdeau all lit the lamp for Florida, which improved to 2-0-1 in the preseason.
"They're a quick team and they always have a good game plan," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. "They had a young lineup [on Sunday]. I think both teams are still trying to sort out their rosters and give their young guys shots. I think as we get into the middle of this week here you're going to see more veterans come in and get a better read on both clubs."
With four meetings left in their early-season battle with the Bolts, the Panthers will now host the Lightning for a pair of games at the BB&T Center on Tuesday, Sept. 26 (7:30 p.m. ET) and Thursday, Sept. 28 (6 p.m. ET) before heading north of the border to close out their preseason against the Montreal Canadiens on Friday, Sept. 29 (7 p.m. ET).
After that, the real fun begins.
The Panthers will hop 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.
After a year in which both teams finished outside the playoff picture, Florida and Tampa are both expected to rebound and compete for the Atlantic Division title in the upcoming season. The Panthers most recently captured the division in 2015-16, besting the second-place Lightning by six points in the standings.
Florida and Tampa have never met in the playoffs.
"They're a skilled team and they play fast," Sceviour said of the Lightning. "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."
If you are ready to unite under #OneTerritory and help us re-ignite our cross-state rivalry, tickets to the Panthers' upcoming games against the Lightning can be purchased HERE.