FLORIDA PANTHERS SEASON PREVIEW:
The Florida Panthers were one of the biggest surprises of the 2011-12 NHL season and finished with a 38-26-18 record and the third spot in the Eastern Conference. Riding a wave of momentum throughout the regular season behind first-year coach Kevin Dineen, the Panthers made their first appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs since 1999 and surged to a 3-2 lead over the eventual Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Devils. However, the Panthers weren't able to hold their advantage and were knocked out in the first round, but fans have seen their team improve dramatically over the past several years and are hopeful that their boys can take the next step during the 2012-13 season.
Offensively, the Panthers will return largely the same squad that got them into the playoffs last year, including Tomas Fleischmann, who lead the team in points and goals during the 2011-12 season. Along with center Stephen Weiss and winger Kris Versteeg, the Panthers will continue to have one of the most potent first lines in the NHL. The only key acquisition of note for the Panthers this offseason was the addition of forward Peter Mueller, who should bolster the depth along the team's back lines.
The biggest loss for the Panthers was defenseman Jason Garrison, who lead the team in power play goals last season. The Panthers are hoping that newly-signed defenseman Filip Kuba can help to fill that void, along with longtime defensive standouts like Brian Campbell, Mike Weaver and Dmitry Kulikov. At goalie, the Panthers were able to retain backup goaltender Scott Clemmensen, who proved to be a valuable asset during the team's playoff stretch. Of course, the starting goalie duties will continue to be locked down by Jose Theodore, who posted a .917 save percentage during the 2011-12 season.
The Florida Panthers' season will kick off on October 13 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the team will hoist its 2011-12 Southeast Division Championship to the rafters in what is expected to be a special moment for Panthers' fans. The team will play important home games against the New York Rangers in a New Year's Eve showdown, and will host the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings on March 30th. While the team has certainly undergone its fair share of changes in the offseason, the squad has high hopes that they can continue their quest for their first Stanley Cup.
FLORIDA PANTHERS EXPERIENCE:
Location: Sunrise, Florida
Stadium: BB&T Center
Conference: Eastern Conference
Division: Southeast Division
Florida Panthers Stanley Cup Titles: none
Florida Panthers Conference Championships: 1
Notable Players: Ed Jovanovski, Nathan Horton, & Rob Niedermayer
The Florida Panthers play hockey in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The team first played as an expansion team in Miami, Florida in 1993. The team had one of the most successful first seasons of any expansion team in history. In 1996 the Florida Panthers would even reach the Stanley Cup Finals as the #4 seed in the Eastern Conference, only to be swept by Colorado. The team has struggled since starting 17-0 the following season. The acquisition of Pavel Bure briefly infused some success for the team, and the Panthers also moved to the BB&T Center in Ft. Lauderdale, but the team has since fallen in the standings. This could be the Florida Panthers' turnaround season.
The Florida Panthers play their home games at the BB&T Center in the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida suburb of Sunrise. For the best game experience, try the Eastern Financial District section of the arena. With incredible sightlines and service, it is the ultimate in hockey experiences. Buy Florida Panthers tickets and see one of the most exciting teams in the NHL vie for a playoff berth and more!
Florida Panthers Playoff tickets
Florida Panthers Season Preview History