Florida goes into the opener in Dallas with the chance to have nine players who weren’t in last year’s lineup. The Panthers suffered through the lockout-shortened 2013 season by finishing last in the league for the first time in franchise history.
The Panthers were beset by injury in 2013, with a dozen players missing significant time as the team limped to the finish line with eight regulars out of the lineup in the final weeks because of various injuries.
“We’re better than we were,” Tallon said. “We have more tools, more depth and more assets available than we did last year. We’ll see how it all fits. We want to compete for a playoff spot, compete for a division like we did two years ago.”
This training camp has been good to the Panthers as only three players – Nick Bjugstad (concussion), Steve Pinizzotto (hip) and Scott Clemmensen (knee) – unexpectedly joined the injured list.
When the Panthers start the season Thursday in Dallas, they do so with pretty much the lineup they expect to have throughout the year.
By going into a much tougher division, the Panthers need all the help they can get. Florida is considered to be outside the playoff picture with the likes of new divisional rivals Detroit, Boston, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa fighting for those positions. Florida is also joined in the new Atlantic Division by Tampa Bay and Buffalo.
“There’s no hiding. We’ll be what we are,” Dineen said. “We’ll be ready to start on Thursday and go from there. I’m not big on ‘me against the world.’ Sometimes the dog on top has just as much fun as the underdog.”
Thursday: Panthers at Stars
When/where: 8 p.m.; AmericanAirlines Center, Dallas.
TV/radio: FSN; 560 AM.
The series: Tied 11-11-3.
Scouting report: The Stars have an all-new look from their snazzy new jerseys and logo to former Buffalo Lindy Ruff and general manager Jim Nill. The Stars made a big splash in the offseason by acquiring Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley and Shawn Horcoff. Florida last won in Dallas on Nov. 15, 2011. The Panthers are 9-7-2 (one tie) all-time in season openers and have won three of their past four.