On Saturday afternoon, the Florida Panthers finished their summer training camp. Sunday morning, they will load up their charter aircraft in Fort Lauderdale and fly to Toronto.
“We have worked really hard and everyone is really excited,” captain Sasha Barkov said.
“We’re ready to go on the plane, fly to Toronto and get this thing started again. We can’t wait to play in the games.”
They hope to be in Canada for a long time — so long, Brian Boyle spoke of packing some warmer clothes.
Edmonton, you know, can get kind of chilly in the fall.
The Panthers sure would like to experience Edmonton come September as that city plays host to the NHL’s conference finals as well as the Stanley Cup Finals.
“If you go to Edmonton … I have had buddies play up there and this would be around the time of a normal training camp. They have had snow,” Boyle said.
“So you have to pack for the hot weather as well as the cold. I think this is the biggest suitcase I have ever taken on a road trip.”
For now, however, the Panthers only have the New York Islanders in their sights.
The Florida Panthers are expected to check into their new digs in downtown Toronto today as part of the NHL’s Phase 4 with a practice on Monday.
Florida plays the Tampa Bay Lightning at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday at noon with the best-of-5 Stanley Cup qualifier against the Islanders starting Saturday at 4 p.m.
“During the week, things are going to happen quickly,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said.
“There will lots of hockey to watch or we will be on the ice. We expect up-tempo practices as we get excited progressing through the week.
“Certainly this is another part of this long stretch of getting back to playing. This is a big hurdle and people will feel the excitement when we land and on the plane as well.’’
Quenneville said while his two-week training camp is now complete, the Panthers have plenty of work to do in Toronto.
Although he has been integrating some of the Islanders’ game plan into his workouts and film work in Coral Springs, getting ready for Barry Trotz’s bunch will be at the forefront of the Panthers’ work moving forward.
Quenneville said he plans to practice Monday with Tuesday being an off day.
Florida is expected to practice Thursday and Friday before playing the Islanders in a series which will determine whether this season continues or not.
“We have talked about the Isle as we have progressed here,” Quenneville said Saturday afternoon.
“I think it is more about what we do than what they are up to. This week, with the exhibition game, we will fine-tune a little more on the Isle, but it is about our game; about being more predictable and reliable.
“It is going to be a fun week, you see the opponent and, hockey is back. It’ll be great right off the bat after we land.”
The Panthers did not come out of training camp unscathed as defensemen Aaron Ekblad and Chase Priskie apparently got hurt last week.
Quenneville said Ekblad — a cornerstone player for the Panthers — would be ready to play this week.
He said both Ekblad and Priskie skated before Saturday’s practice although neither participated in practice or the subsequent 36-minute scrimmage.
“They are progressing and we will see how they are, what Monday’s plan is for them when we get on the ice in Toronto,” Quenneville said.