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Florida Panthers Back on the Road. They’re Cool With It



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Arizona Coyotes center Jack McBain battles with Anton Lundell during the first period of Florida’s 3-1 loss in Tempe on Nov. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

FORT LAUDERDALE — It seemed like just a few days ago that the Florida Panthers returned from their longest road trip of the season. 

Yet, here they were on Monday, packing up for another long flight — this one to Arizona. 

The Panthers will kick off a four-game road slate tonight in Tempe, their 20th game away from home this season. 

By the time this trip ends next Tuesday in St. Louis, the Panthers will have played 23 of their 40 games on the road. 

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While that number is just over 50 percent of their schedule, the long flights will all but be over for the Panthers. 

After playing the Blues, the Panthers will only leave the Eastern time zone twice: In Nashville later this month and again in Dallas on March 22. 

Crisscrossing through time zones is never fun, whether you are a business traveler or a professional hockey player. 

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The time change is not that big of a deal when on location, but it does catch up to you upon your return. 

“It matters,” coach Paul Maurice said after his team’s short but skate-intensive practice at the Iceplex on Monday morning. “The St. Louis game was the first one where we came back and really struggled. I thought last year, when you look at your most difficult games, there were two of them: Seattle and the Islanders. We got pounded, didn’t look very good. We were dragging. I think that was direct to our schedule where we went west early. You have to survive it and this is another long one. We haven’t had a lot of back-to-backs yet, but that’s coming.”

The Panthers’ 4-1 home loss to St. Louis a day after returning from their trip to the Pacific Northwest and Alberta last month was yet another example of a team struggling once returning home. 

By the end of next week, the Panthers will no longer have to worry about that. 

“It will definitely save us time and help with our recovery,” captain Sasha Barkov said. “We’re not going to be changing time zones all the time. We have some Canada trips, but those don’t seem as long. It really helps when you get those long road trips out of the way.”

As was the case last season, the Panthers are getting through the meat of their road schedule before the All-Star break.

That should set them up nicely for the second half of the season. 

“There is a cost to the long western road trips,’’ Maurice said. “You have to survive them. If you can survive them, you are in pretty god shape.’’

The Panthers will have a home-heavy schedule moving forward, as the trips they have to take are mainly on the East Coast and within their division. 

Florida ends its season with a four-game trip from April 1-6 in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Boston before wrapping up the regular season with a four-game homestand against Ottawa, Columbus, Buffalo, and Toronto from April 9-16.

This particular trip is not going to come easy for the Panthers. 

Florida, which is 10-7-2 on the road this season, opens against a much-improved Coyotes squad that has embraced its junior hockey home-ice advantage at Mullett Arena on the Arizona State University campus.

The Coyotes currently hold the final wild-card spot in the West thanks in part to their 12-5-0 record at the 4,600-seat arena they share with the Sun Devils. 

“It is nice to get away, spend time with your teammates, but it will nice to get these over with,” Brandon Montour said. “We’ll get to spend a lot more time with family. But this is a big trip, we want to start feeling good at the start of the New Year and carry it back home.’’

From there, the Panthers return to Las Vegas for the first time since Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final in a game that could be a tad salty considering how those two went at it in Sunrise right before the Christmas break.

Florida also visits Colorado and St. Louis. 

That’s four games against three playoff teams — with the Blues being right in the mix following a coaching change last month. 

Of course, with four games in a span of a week, the Panthers will have plenty of downtime including a couple of days in Vegas and a team building trip to a Colorado ski resort.

“The mood is good and the winning helps with that a little bit,’’ said Maurice, whose team goes to Arizona riding a four-game winning streak. “We have been on the road a bit and there is a cost to that. But we survived it. Even in the losses, we learned from that and bounced back. We want to have a little better road trip than the last one, for sure, but we’re playing good opponents, good teams.’’ 



  • When: Tuesday, 9 p.m.
  • Where: Mullett Arena at Arizona State University, Tempe
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Season Series — At Arizona: Tuesday. At Florida: Jan. 24.
  • Last Season: Tied 1-1
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Arizona leads 20-17-2, 3 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Thursday at Vegas Golden Knights, 10 p.m.

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