The Colorado Avalanche were the odds-on favorite to win the Stanley Cup when the NHL season started. The Florida Panthers are considered a real threat to compete for the title.
Thursday night, the two teams meet up for the first of two meetings this season.
Or, as was the case way back in 1996, could there be more?
The Panthers are off to a rousing start, winning their first three games against teams who made the playoffs last season in Pittsburgh, the Islanders and the two-time defending champion Lightning.
Colorado is off to a slower start — and smarting after losing 6-3 in Washington on Tuesday night — but, again, we’re only three games into the season.
The Avs had the most points of any team last season (82) as they won 39 of 56 games — finishing with the highest points percentage in franchise history (.732) as they made the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.
The Panthers come into the night having won 13 of their past 14 regular season home games, including winning six consecutive in Sunrise.
In those six games, the Panthers outscored their opponents 28-13.
Colorado, in town for the first time in just over two years, has had plenty of success in South Florida over the years.
The Avs are 13-3-2 in South Florida since relocating to Colorado in 1995 — 15-3-2 if you count their two wins in the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals at Miami Arena.
Florida coach Joel Quenneville was an assistant coach on that ‘96 championship team.
— The Panthers placed defenseman Olli Juolevi on the IR on Wednesday and recalled Chase Priskie from Charlotte.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
COLORADO AVALANCHE (1-2) AT FLORIDA PANTHERS (3-0)
- WHEN: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- WHERE: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TICKETS: CLICK HERE
- TV/STREAMING: Bally Sports Florida
- RADIO: 560-AM
- 2021 regular season series: Did not play
- All-time regular season series: Colorado leads 24-10-5, 3 ties
- Odds via Bovada.lv: Florida (PL -1.5 +200) — (ML -115) — U/O 6.5
- Up next: Florida at Philadelphia Flyers, 7; Colorado at Tampa Bay, Saturday, 7
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 10 Anthony Duclair
11 Jonathan Huberdeau // 9 Sam Bennett // 74 Owen Tippett
70 Patric Hornqvist // 15 Anton Lundell // 13 Sam Reinhart
77 Frank Vatrano // 27 Eetu Luostarinen // 17 Mason Marchment
52 MacKenzie Weegar // 5 Aaron Ekblad
42 Gus Forsling // 7 Radko Gudas
44 Kevin Connauton // 62 Brandon Montour
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
30 Spencer Knight
Scratched: Joe Thornton, Ryan Lomberg, Chase Priskie
Injured: Noel Acciari, Markus Nutivaara, Olli Juolevi
PROJECTED COLORADO AVALANCHE LINEUP
92 Gabriel Landeskog // 29 Nathan MacKinnon // 96 Mikko Rantanen
95 Andre Burakovsky // 91 Nazem Kadri // 11 Mikhail Maltsev
75 Sampo Ranta // 37 JT Compher // 61 Martin Kaut
43 Darren Helm // 17 Tyson Jost // 25 Logan O’Connor
49 Samuel Girard // 8 Cale Makar
4 Bowen Byram // 6 Erik Johnson
3 Jack Johnson // 28 Ryan Murray
31 Jonas Johansson
35 Darcy Kuemper
Injured: Devon Toews, Valeri Nichushkin