All of a sudden, the signs keep piling up that hockey season is nearing. Most of the restricted free agent holdouts caved (or wore down their respective teams), NHL 12 came out last week and training camps are opening up. In that process, the first round of “Team X/Player A hopes to redeem himself” stories have been printed and various prospects hope to make big impressions in camp.
Of course, none of those great signs can top the beauty of two NHL teams going toe-to-toe. The NHL preseason begins today with four games, including a double-header between the Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators. Those teams will play a game at 3 pm ET and then one at 7:30 pm ET; it’s not expected that any players will appear in both contests.
Along with that duo of Panthers-Predators squabbles, there are two 7 pm ET games: the Carolina Hurricanes vs. the Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs. Senators-Leafs will be featured on NHL Network and the Maple Leafs’ Web site. Here’s a few things that will be on display today. (For a deeper look, click here.)
- We’ll see the first two exhibition games of Panthers coach Kevin Dineen’s career.
- Today will provide a little teaser for the new-look Sabres and Panthers.
- The Battle of Ontario begins – at least if you count preseason games as a piece of that rivalry.
- A wide variety of prospects hope to impress, from Erik Gudbranson and Jonathan Huberdau in Florida to the Senators’ 2011 first round pick Mika Zibanejad and Nazem Kadri for the Leafs.
It should be a nice sneak preview of hockey as the “real” games rapidly approach. We’ll certainly keep our eyes open for standout/disappointing performances, injury news and other bits that crop up from those four contests today at PHT.