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Back In The Atlantic Division

Friday, 07.19.2013 / 5:29 PM
By Glenn Odebralski - FloridaPanthers.com / Panthers Insider
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Back In The Atlantic Division
Florida picks up six new Division opponents, including the Detroit Red Wings who head east from the Western Conference. (Getty Images)

The name is the same. The opponents? Not so much.

The Panthers first began playing in the NHL in the Atlantic Division and on Thursday it was announced they would be returning to the same named division. Unlike their first go around (from 1993-98) however, most of their opponents won't be the same.

In 1993, division foes consisted of the Flyers, Devils, Capitals, Rangers, Lightning and Islanders. Fast forward 20 years and the only team that remains is the cross-state rival Lightning. The other teams, who will now reside in the newly named Metropolitan Division will be replaced by the old Northeast teams (Bruins, Sabres, Canadiens, Senators and Maple Leafs) along with the Detroit Red Wings.

The Cats will face off against some of the oldest teams in the league. Four of them, in fact, are a part of the Original Six in the Bruins, Canadiens, Leafs and Wings. A challenge indeed but for head coach Kevin Dineen, the challenge is always changing no matter what division you're playing in.

"Every year it's different dynamics. You look at Montreal two years ago. You look at Toronto, struggled (for a while) and they had some real positive things happen last year and were able to turn things around in a fairly quick manner," said Dineen to the South Florida media following the release of the 2013-14 schedule. "(Detroit is) going to be very excited getting into the Eastern Conference. It's something they've been looking to do for years and years. Here they are positioned with a lot of quality hockey teams."

The way the schedule is set up, as Dineen points out, one doesn't have to go no further than the road trip to open the season to see the caliber of opponents that Florida is hit with in the opening month.

"For me, I look at the start," said Dineen. "We go Dallas, St Louis, Philadelphia. None of those teams are in our division but you know what. Dallas has gotten better this summer. St Louis who had a really quality regular season last year. Philly has done some things to get better so no matter whether you're in division or not, the road is not easy.

"That's fine. That's our expectations."

That trip, while with it's own challenges is also seen as a blessing for the Panthers bench boss.

"I love the idea of starting on the road. I just think that really the good things for our team," said Dineen. "We're under different circumstances than we were a couple of years ago but still really like the idea that you got a good break between our last exhibition game and our first regular season game. Get out on the road, spend some quality time together and come back home to finish October strong."

82 games; 30 against division opponents, including five against the Wings and reigning Eastern Conference Champion Bruins. It should make for an intense battle as eight teams are battling anywhere from three to five available playoff spots come April.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
2 x - NYR 75 47 21 7 228 177 101
3 x - TBL 77 47 23 7 249 201 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 DET 75 40 23 12 220 206 92
7 WSH 76 41 25 10 223 188 92
8 BOS 76 38 25 13 201 196 89
9 OTT 75 37 26 12 218 203 86
10 FLA 76 35 26 15 190 207 85
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 76 31 33 12 168 194 74
14 CAR 75 28 36 11 174 204 67
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 73 13 36 9 49
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
J. Jagr 71 15 26 -2 41
J. Jokinen 75 8 33 -2 41
B. Boyes 73 12 23 10 35
A. Ekblad 75 11 24 11 35
J. Hayes 66 18 13 -5 31
A. Barkov 65 14 17 -1 31
B. Campbell 76 3 22 2 25
B. Pirri 43 20 2 5 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 26 17 12 .921 2.33
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
 
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