The Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators will continue what has become a preseason tradition on Sunday as the two teams will play a doubleheader at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise.
The two teams have been playing a day-night doubleheader to kick off the preseason every year since 2011 — save for 2012 when there was a lockout and last year when the NHL did not play exhibition games.
The sites alternate between the two cities. Florida last visited Music City for the exhibition game double-dip in 2019.
On Sunday, the first game will start at 2 p.m. with the nightcap coming at 6.
The Panthers are offering a $10 ticket for both games (the price includes parking) with the money going to the Florida Panthers Foundation to benefit youth hockey in South Florida.
With two games going on Sunday, just about everyone on Florida’s training camp roster — save for players such as Sergei Bobrovsky, Joe Thornton and Radko Gudas — will see some game action.
For the few junior players such as Justin Sourdif likely heading back to their regular teams on Monday, this will be their last chance to make an impression before moving on.
The Panthers will have Monday off before returning to practice on Tuesday morning.
“It’s the first preseason game of the year and I will try to learn as much from the older guys as I can,” said Sourdif, who will make his Panthers’ preseason debut in the 2 p.m. game.
“I’m going to out there and take it one shift at a time. I’m definitely excited, have been forward to something like this for a long time. The first step obviously is playing in the preseason and then a regular season game. Those are my goals and it’s a lifelong dream of mine. I’m going to keep working until I achieve it.”
Added coach Joel Quenneville: “We get a chance to see everyone early in camp and that’s the reason for it. We have some kids who have to get back to juniors as well. But basically everyone here in camp is going to play.”
So, how did this doubleheader tradition start?
After the Panthers had been a traveling preseason roadshow in the mid-2000s (for the checks that came with the road games), general manager Dale Tallon brought training camp back to Florida in order to cut down on all the traipsing around.
“Our guys were starting the season exhausted from all the traveling they would do,” Tallon said a few years ago.
Florida’s then-assistant GM Mike Santos had always thought a preseason doubleheader was a good idea (training camps were split into two teams anyway early on) and spoke to Tallon about it.
Poile was in and so were the Panthers.
“This made a lot of sense from a hockey standpoint,’’ Santos said in 2018. “The coaches have flexibility, the scouts get to see everyone and players get their chance to make a real impression.
“The young kids get to play in these doubleheaders. Sometimes, you would have kids get cut and not get the chance to play in a game. This was a way to get 40 players into a game in the first week of camp. Most training camps have 50-60 players. If you can get 40 guys in early on, they get a chance and you can look them in the eye because they got their opportunity.”
This season, as has pretty much been the case for the past few years, the Panthers aren’t doing a whole lot of traveling in the preseason.
Florida will make a (relatively) quick flight to Dallas for a game on Wednesday with the Stars coming to Sunrise on Friday night.
The Panthers will also play the Lightning three times — once in Orlando, Tampa and Sunrise.
And that’s it.
Sunday’s game, by design, will be the last time some players get into a game before the initial cuts although a vast majority will make it through the second game against Dallas.
NHL teams like to make things a little more manageable numbers-wise, so the Panthers should be in the 30s by the time they play the three-game set against the Lightning.
“You want to see what some guys do,’’ Quenneville said. “We have a lot of decisions we have to make; who we’re starting, who goes where. Sometimes those are business decisions but we like the hockey to be the primary reason. We want to see how people play.”
PANTHERS ON DECK
PRESEASON DOUBLEHEADER VS. NASHVILLE PREDATORS
- When: Sunday, 2/6 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- Tickets: $10 donation, includes parking AVAILABLE HERE
- 2021 regular season series: Florida won 5-2-1
- TV/Radio: None
- Streaming: FloridaPanthers.com
FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
GAME 1 VS. NASHVILLE PREDATORS, 2 P.M.
11 Jonathan Huberdeau – 9 Sam Bennett – 74 Owen Tippett
77 Frank Vatrano – 55 Noel Acciari – 70 Patric Hornqvist
98 Maxim Mamin – 21 Zac Dalpe – 20 Aleksi Heponiemi
54 Justin Nachbaur – 24 Justin Sourdif – 18 Serron Noel
51 MacKenzie Weegar – 5 Aaron Ekblad
8 Matt Kiersted – 44 Kevin Connauton
88 Max Gildon – 22 Chase Priskie
33 Sam Montembeault // 50 Evan Fitzpatrick
FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
GAME 2 VS. NASHVILLE PREDATORS, 6 P.M.
23 Carter Verhaeghe – 16 Sasha Barkov – 13 Sam Reinhart
17 Mason Marchment – 27 Eetu Luostarinen – 10 Anthony Duclair
14 Grigori Denisenko – 83 Juho Lammikko – 94 Ryan Lomberg
89 Tyler Hutsko – 79 Cole Schwindt – 41 Henry Bowlby
42 Gus Forsling – 62 Brandon Montour
65 Markus Nutivaara – 6 Braden Hache
32 Lucas Carlsson – 58 Noah Juulsen
30 Spencer Knight // 31 Christopher Gibson