The Florida Panthers have not yet officially punched their ticket to the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs but that is simply a formality at this point.
The Panthers, who have only made the playoffs five times in their history, will make it a sixth perhaps as early as this weekend.
And, the team’s ticket office is getting ready.
On Friday, emails were sent out to season ticket holders announcing that they would be able to begin purchasing tickets for the first two rounds of the playoffs on Monday morning.
The big news: The Panthers will begin increasing capacity at BB&T Center starting with the opening round.
The Panthers have been limiting capacity at the 19,250 seat barn in Sunrise to 25 percent since the start of the season meaning they have around 4,800 seats to sell depending on the pod configuration.
For Round 1, capacity plans to increase up to 47 percent — or about 9,000 fans.
The release sent out to season ticket holders hinted that it could increase even more as the playoffs went on.
“The Capacity for Round 1 has been raised to up to 47%,’’ the email reads, “and could increase (up to 100%) in any of the subsequent rounds of the Playoffs.”
The Panthers announced a crowd of 4,693 for Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes which was one of their largest crowds of the season.
Per hockeydb.com, the Florida Panthers are third in average attendance this season at 4,083 per game. Dallas, which has allowed a larger capacity at AmericanAirlines Center, is averaging 4,237.
The Panthers, Dallas and Arizona are the only teams in the NHL which opened their doors to all home games this season.
Other teams are just now getting fans back in their building save for in Canada which remain closed.
“Our building … gets loud,” coach Joel Quenneville said after Florida’s first game with fans since 2020.
‘”And we can sense it. You can feel it and we appreciate the support that we have.
“I’m looking forward to it getting even more boisterous as we go along.”
The Panthers were included in the NHL’s expanded postseason last year but did not advance to the Round of 16 after being bounced by the New York Islanders in four games.
This will be Florida’s first trip to the playoffs since it won the Atlantic Division in 2016 and lost to the Islanders in 6.
The Panthers have not advanced out of the first round since it went all the way to the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals in the franchise’s third season.
Since then, the Panthers lost in the opening round to the New York Rangers (1997), New Jersey Devils (2000, 2012) and Islanders (2016).
Florida is expected to open the playoffs against either Carolina or Tampa Bay; if the Panthers rally and win the Central Division, they would open with Dallas, Nashville or Chicago.