The Florida Panthers will have an early wakeup call Saturday with more than a couple of players grabbing a cup of coffee at the Tim Hortons on their walk to the Sabres arena in Buffalo.
The two teams will play a Saturday afternoon matinee in Game 2 of the 2022-23 season.
”Sometimes, it’s nice just to get up and go play and not think about it all day,” Sam Bennett said.
On Thursday, both opened up with nice wins; Florida beat the host New York Islanders 3-1 and Buffalo dropped the visiting Senators 4-1.
“It definitely feels good to get off on the right foot,’’ Bennett said after Friday’s afternoon workout at KeyBank Center.
“We played a full 60 minute game there. It is good for team chemistry and team confidence — we have a lot of new guys and a new coaching staff — so to start with a win is big for our group.”
Florida coach Paul Maurice expressed at least a little concern coming out of the preseason that injuries and the like prevented the team from icing its full team in any game prior to the opener.
While there were some hiccups on Thursday, the Panthers looked like a pretty cohesive group against the Islanders.
“They fit in great and didn’t seem like new guys,” Bennett said. “We all gelled well, found ways to generate chances and opportunities as we’re still learning the systems. It was a great game overall.’’
— Even though former Panthers’ goalie — and Parkland resident – Craig Anderson was lights out in the Sabres’ opener on Thursday night, Eric Comrie is expected to get the start on Saturday.
Maurice knows Comrie well as the two were together in Winnipeg last season as well as in previous seasons.
Comrie signed a two-year deal with the Sabres in July.
Spencer Knight, who helped the Panthers officially clinch their playoff spot in Buffalo last season, may get the call for Florida with Sergei Bobrovsky (31 saves on Thursday) back Monday in Boston.
Maurice did not disclose who would get the net.
UPDATE: On Saturday morning, Maurice confirmed Knight will start.
PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT BUFFALO SABRES
- When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
- Where: KeyBank Center; Buffalo, N.Y.
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM HD-2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- DraftKings odds — Florida favored: Money Line (-190); Puck line (-1.5, +125); Over/Under 7 (+110/-130)
- Last season: Florida won 3-0
- All-time regular season series: Buffalo leads 52-46-5, 4 ties
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 13 Sam Reinhart
19 Matthew Tkachuk // 9 Sam Bennett // 38 Rudolfs Balcers
27 Eetu Luostarinen // 15 Anton Lundell // 6 Colin White
94 Ryan Lomberg // 21 Nick Cousins // 70 Patric Hornqvist
42 Gus Forsling // 5 Aaron Ekblad
18 Marc Staal // 62 Brandon Montour
28 Josh Mahura // 7 Radko Gudas
30 Spencer Knight
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
Injured: Anthony Duclair (LTIR), Matt Kiersted (LBI), Zac Dalpe (UBI), Justin Sourdif (UBI)
PROJECTED BUFFALO SABRES LINEUP
53 Jeff Skinner // 72 Tage Thompson // 71 Victor Olofsson
22 Jack Quinn // 37 Casey Mittelstadt // 89 Alex Tuch
19 Peyton Krebs // 24 Dylan Cozens // 77 John Peterka
28 Zemgus Girgensons // Rasmus Asplund // 21 Kyle Okposo
23 Mattias Samuelsson // 26 Rasmus Dahlin
25 Owen Power // 10 Henri Jokiharju
78 Jacob Bryson // 46 Ilya Lyubushkin
31 Eric Comrie
41 Craig Anderson