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Season Kicks Off

Panthers begin season with four-game road trip looking to build off late pre-season buzz. Thomas gets opening night start.

Wednesday, 10.2.2013 / 4:15 PM ET / News
By Glenn Odebralski  - FloridaPanthers.com
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Season Kicks Off
Netminder Tim Thomas will start against Dallas as the Panthers open the 2013-14 season. (Photo Credit: Kinfay Moroti, Fort Myers Gannett)

Hockey is back.

While it will still be another week before the Panthers fans in South Florida see their team live for the first time this season when they host the Penguins in the home opener on Oct. 11, Florida kicks things off the 2013-14 season with a four-game road trip. It all begins Thursday night in Dallas.

"Great to get them going…We talk all summer. We're excited at the draft and at development camp and through training camp but talk's cheap. Let's get at it," said head coach Kevin Dineen following practice before the team took off for Dallas. "We're really looking forward to getting on the plane, spend the next eight days together with a real focus on hockey.

"It's a real exciting time for us."

"I think getting the season started, everyone is looking forward to it," said captain Ed Jovanovski who is close to returning from his off-season hip surgery. "It's a clean slate for everybody. We're entering into a new season."

With the season kicking off, the Panthers are still building off a late pre-season buzz in which they added five veterans following an ownership change. The additional players will provide depth throughout the lineup on a nightly basis and will hopefully help the Cats get off to a good start, despite opening up their 20th Anniversary season in four tough arenas, having to play in Dallas on Thursday, St Louis on Saturday, Philadelphia on Tuesday and Tampa Bay next Thursday.

"I think there's a positive energy," said goaltender Tim Thomas. "They're really looking forward to growing and getting better in the organization. I think new ownership brought a very positive direction to the team."

"We want to try and be as consistent as possible. We start tomorrow," said Jovanovski. "We have a good four games on the road and it's good team build as well, some bonding time. Hopefully we can get going off the right foot."

Taking last season off, Thomas will see his first action in about 15 months as Dineen has tabbed the former two-time Vezina trophy winner the Panthers opening night starter. Dineen, who is usually coy on who starts, announced that Thomas deservingly earned the start on opening night in Dallas.

"Tim Thomas will (get the start). For my first and last goalie announcement of the year, I usually don't go down that line," quipped Dineen before adding. "But Timmy is going to get opening night and very pleased with the way he has played over the last couple of weeks in practice and in the games that he came in. He's earned that net on opening night."

Following a year away from hockey, it's exciting for Thomas to get back into live action right away and help the Panthers move past last season.

"I'm very happy," said Thomas about getting the nod. "I'm looking forward to helping get this team off to a good start."

The decision came based on Thomas' work and Dineen said that it's something that his players can look towards the entire season.

"To me it is performance based, pretty well on every lineup decision that we're going to make this year," said Dineen. "Timmy has been really competitive in training camp here. I thought he played solid in Estero…and his game the other night, there was one of those seeing-eye dog bouncing pucks that found its way in but other than that, he's been really good.

“We look at him as a guy that can come here and be a big difference maker."


Listed on Injured Reserve to begin the season, Dineen said that forward Sean Bergenheim, goaltender Scott Clemmensen and Jovanovski were all making great strides and could be seen playing hockey sooner rather than later as the season kicks off.

"We're really excited that Sean Bergenheim has taken great steps. The last few days he's out there skating with the team which he hadn't in the previous three weeks so that's a real positive for us," said Dineen. "Eddie Jovanovski continues to improve in a positive manner and Scott Clemmensen has been cleared to play.

“A lot of good things have been happening for our organization."




1 WSH 49 36 9 4 161 110 76
2 FLA 51 31 15 5 141 112 67
3 NYR 51 28 18 5 146 132 61
4 TBL 50 28 18 4 131 115 60
5 BOS 51 27 18 6 149 136 60
6 NYI 49 26 17 6 134 121 58
7 DET 51 25 18 8 125 130 58
8 NJD 52 26 20 6 117 118 58
9 PIT 49 25 17 7 126 122 57
10 PHI 49 23 18 8 117 128 54
11 CAR 52 23 21 8 124 138 54
12 MTL 52 24 24 4 137 141 52
13 OTT 52 23 23 6 142 164 52
14 TOR 50 19 22 9 116 134 47
15 BUF 52 21 26 5 119 137 47
16 CBJ 53 20 28 5 133 167 45


J. Jagr 48 16 21 12 37
J. Huberdeau 51 10 27 11 37
A. Barkov 41 15 19 13 34
J. Jokinen 51 9 24 12 33
V. Trocheck 51 17 15 4 32
R. Smith 51 16 15 12 31
B. Pirri 47 10 13 -4 23
A. Ekblad 47 10 12 23 22
B. Campbell 51 4 15 17 19
N. Bjugstad 36 9 8 -3 17
R. Luongo 23 13 4 .930 2.11
A. Montoya 8 2 1 .931 1.93

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