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PANTHERS KICK OFF PRESEASON: Preds in Sunrise for a Exhibition Doubleheader

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Last year's training camp was a complete rush job as practices were jammed in to accommodate a tight schedule after the NHL's lockout ended.

There is no such hurry this season, although by looking at the Panthers schedule, it sure doesn't look that way.

The Panthers will open their preseason Monday afternoon with a pair of exhibition games against Nashville at the BB&T Center in Sunrise.

One group will play the Predators at 2:30 p.m., with a second group taking on a different batch of Nashville players at 7.

The Panthers, who didn't play a single preseason game last year because of the work strife, will play five games this week.

After the two games Monday, Florida travels to Texas and will play the Dallas Stars twice. The hectic week ends Saturday night in Tampa against the Lightning.

"We want to win them all, especially the ones at home, but we know there are reasons why we put things together,'' coach Kevin Dineen said.

"The first ones are easy because this is a great opportunity to get some kids in the game who may not have the opportunity to play in a preseason game. It's a little hard on us as coaches, sure, but we have a wide range of players in these games.''

Having two games in one day -- and three in three with Wednesday's game in Dallas -- affords Dineen a chance give players fighting for a roster spot a chance to shine against an opposing team.

For players whose spot on the team is secure, these games is a chance to get back into game speed, to go all out and get used to the tempo of the game once things count for real.

That's an experience the Panthers, and the other 29 teams in the league, didn't get last year.

"You are getting your bearings in the first couple of games so I like to play in as many as possible,'' Shawn Matthias said. "Your timing is a little off and you can work out as much as you want. But games are at a different level. It's good we have a lot of games. Guys can get their legs."

The Panthers currently have four goalies in camp with Jacob Markstrom the only one with NHL experience.

Although Markstrom is expected to split time in net during his one game Monday, the Panthers should give him extended minutes as the preseason winds down.

"You get to see the speed get in. I love the preseason because it's great practice and it tells you the real season is around the corner,'' said Markstrom, who will play in the second game.

-- Dineen said that Ed Jovanovski, Jonathan Huberdeau, Sean Bergenheim and Nick Bjugstad will not play in either of the two preseason games Monday.

Huberdeau and Jovanovski took part in Sunday's full workout.

"We'll see how he reacts after a test like that,'' Dineen said of Jovanovski.

-- Aleksander Barkov, the second overall pick of the past draft, will play in the second game. Defenseman Seth Jones, whom the Panthers passed to take Barkov, will also play in that game as he makes his debut for the Predators.


When, Where: 2:30, 7 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise

TV/Radio: None.

Scouting report: The Panthers and Preds will play a doubleheader at BB&T Center with one ticket good for both games. Florida will not play at home again until hosting Tampa Bay in the preseason finale next weekend.

PANTHERS KICK OFF PRESEASON: Preds in Sunrise for a Exhibition Doubleheader

PANTHERS KICK OFF PRESEASON: Preds in Sunrise for a Exhibition Doubleheader