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EARLY LEAK: Is This the Florida Panthers 2013-14 Schedule?

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

I received what looks to be a copy of the Florida Panthers' 2013-14 schedule from @xxStein13xx off Twitter today.

Although the Panthers say they haven't recieved a final schedule from the league, this one looks like it could be close to what we're going to see.

And what do we see?

Well, the Panthers will begin celebrating their 20th anniversary season starting Oct. 3 when Florida kicks off a four-game road trip in Dallas. The Panthers will then visit St. Louis, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay before playing their home opener against Pittsburgh on Oct. 11.

Not only is there four divisions instead of six, but each team in the league will play every team at least twice -- once home and once away.

For the Panthers, the Southeast Division is now a memory. Florida and the cross-state rival Lightning remain together in a new division (one still without a name) which is made up of mostly northeastern teams.

Florida and Tampa Bay will compete against Buffalo, Detroit, Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Boston -- with 30 of its 82 games this season coming within the division.

The Panthers will play other Eastern Conference teams -- which now includes Columbus -- at least twice this season. Detroit, which the Panthers will play five times, also moves over from the Western Conference.

Florida will also play Boston five times (twice at home) with four games against the other five teams within the division.

This year's schedule also includes a 20 day break as the NHL shuts down so its players can compete in the Socchi Games in Russia. Florida would visit Carolina on Feb. 7 before resuming Feb. 27 against Washington.

Because of the midseason break, there will be no All-Star weekend this season. Columbus, which was supposed to hold the All-Star Game last season before it got cancelled because of the lockout, is expected to host the event in 2015.

The nearly three--week break will also cause teams to have to play a few more back-to-back games. The Panthers will play 14 sets of such games -- with only one set coming on consecutive home nights.

A whopping 18 of Florida's back-to-back games will be exclusively road games.

Here are some other the highlights of Florida's 2013-14 schedule:

-- The longest homestand of the season is six games with Boston, Minnesota, Chicago, Buffalo, Tampa Bay and St. Louis coming to Sunrise from Oct. 17-Nov. 1. Florida has three homestands of five games -- including to close out the regular season.

-- Florida's longest road trip will be a eight-day affair as the Panthers visit Minnesota, Colorado, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary from Nov. 15-22. The Panthers also have four different four-game trips during the season.

-- With the Panthers having to visit all western teams at least once, Florida will have a few trips out to the west coast. The Panthers first western swing comes in November during the five-game swing; Florida then visits San Jose, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Anaheim from March 18-23.

-- As usual, the Panthers are home during the winter holidays when there are plenty of tourists in South Florida. The Panthers have a five-game homestand during Thanksgiving week, with Philadelphia, the Rangers, Pittsburgh, Ottawa and Winnipeg coming to town.

Florida will also be home for Christmas, with Tampa Bay coming on Dec. 23. The Wings play here on Dec. 28 with Montreal (Dec. 29), New York (New Year's Eve at 5 p.m.) and Nashville (Jan. 4) also in Sunrise.

-- The Panthers will visit Stephen Weiss and the Red Wings for the first time on Dec. 7. Weiss' Sunrise Homecoming will be three days later on Dec. 10.

-- The defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks visit Sunrise on Oct. 22.

-- When the Panthers and the league officially release the schedule, I will post it here on a separate entry. I will also have comments on the schedule from coach Kevin Dineen as well as team president Michael Yormark.

EARLY LEAK: Is This the Florida Panthers 2013-14 Schedule?

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