The Florida Panthers visit the Tampa Bay Lightning for the opening game of the NHL regular season for both. The Panthers loaded up on free agents during the offseason and added a new coach in Joel Quenneville. The Panthers have loads of talent up front with Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Evgenii Dadonov and Mike Hoffman. The defense is led by Aaron Ekblad and Keith Yandle.
Florida now has one of the league’s top goalies in Sergei Bobrovsky while Roberto Luongo has retired. Brett Connolly was added as was Noel Acciari. The Panthers Henrik Borgstrom is a player to be watched. The center, who is just 22, scored 18 points last season in 50 games in his rookie season, but is expected to see much more ice time under new head coach Quenneville.
Tampa Bay was a regular season beast last season, but was eliminated in a first round sweep during the postseason. On paper, the Lightning have the best roster top to bottom, but hockey is not played on paper. Patrick Maroon was signed to give Tampa Bay more playoff experience as he helped lead St Louis to its title last season. Brayden Point was signed to a three-year deal and that will help the Lightning as well.
Anthony Cirelli is a player to be watched. Cirelli scored 39 points last season during his rookie campaign and finished sixth in Calder Trophy voting. However, it was his play on defense that earned the rookie high marks as he won nearly 53% of all his faceoffs and finished 11th in the Selke Trophy voting.