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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 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54


J. Huberdeau 79 15 39 10 54
J. Jokinen 81 8 36 -2 44
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
A. Ekblad 81 12 27 12 39
B. Boyes 78 14 24 11 38
A. Barkov 71 16 20 -4 36
J. Hayes 72 19 16 -4 35
B. Campbell 82 3 24 4 27
B. Pirri 49 22 2 6 24
D. Bolland 53 6 17 4 23
R. Luongo 28 19 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 6 7 2 .892 3.01

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