SUNRISE, Fla. – It’s been a fun few days of discovery for the Florida Panthers.
On Friday night we found out that for the first time in 26 years, the Panthers will skate in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
On Saturday night we learned that the series would be a rematch with cross-state rival Tampa Bay.
It wasn’t until early Monday morning that we found out when that series would begin.
Get out your pen and paper...Game 1 between the Panthers and Lightning will take place on Tuesday night at FLA Live Arena, with the puck dropping at 7 p.m.
Game 2, also at FLA Live Arena, is set for Thursday night at 7 p.m.
The rest of the schedule breaks down like this:
Game 3 @ Tampa Bay, Sunday, May 22 - 1:30 PM
Game 4 @ Tampa Bay, Monday, May 23 - 7 PM
*Game 5 @ Florida, Wednesday, May 25 - Time TBD
*Game 6 @ Tampa Bay, Friday, May 27 - Time TBD
*Game 7 @ Florida, Sunday, May 29 - Time TBD
It’s not often that you see back-to-back games scheduled during the playoffs, but that’s what the Panthers and Lightning will get to experience during Games 3 and 4 in Tampa Bay.
Due to a previously scheduled Kane Brown concert at Amalie Arena on Saturday, May 21, Game 3 would have to wait an extra day. Instead of letting that have a ripple effect and pushing the remaining four games back another day, the schedule makes decided to have the games played on consecutive days instead.
Game 3 on Sunday will instead start at 1:30 p.m. in order to give a maximum amount of time in between the back-to-back games.
It’s worth noting that nobody seems to like early start games, so this wouldn’t come as an advantage for either team.
Perhaps the biggest blunder coming with this schedule is the fact that every single Panthers home game falls on a day where there was a previously scheduled Miami Heat home playoff game.
It shouldn’t make a difference in how packed FLA Live Arena will be, but it will almost certainly impact the television ratings. It also stinks for the many South Florida sports fans who attend both Panthers and Heat games regularly, and will have to choose one or the other when both teams are playing their biggest games of the year.
Thanks to the back to back, however, the Heat’s Game 3 in Boston will be on Saturday, May 21, which is the day before the Panthers play their Game 3 Sunday afternoon in Tampa. Those are the only games in either series that wont be played on the same nights, home or away.
So yeah, there’s that.
Nevertheless, we now know the Panthers and Lightning playoff rematch will begin on Tuesday night in Sunrise.
Last season’s six game slugfest is still being brought up as a frame of reference for a playoff series that has it all: scoring, hitting, goaltending, fighting, pure hatred, venom, etc.
The second edition promises to once again deliver in all those areas, as there is no love lost between these two rivals.
Buckle up, it should be a doozie.