The schedule makers might not have been kind to the Panthers, not with sending the team on a four-game road trip to start the season nor holding their belated home opener on the second night of a back-to-back set.
But coach Kevin Dineen is dealing with the schedule the Panthers have been dealt, knowing that his team will “have time to breathe” soon enough.
Just not right now.
Florida’s home opener Friday marked the team’s third game in four nights. Dineen will give his team Saturday off, with the Los Angeles Kings in town for a Sunday afternoon game.
Although the four-game road trip was the longest to kick off a Panthers season, it isn’t the team’s longest of the season. Florida will have a five-game road trip next month.
“You see the schedule in July, so you know what’s coming,” Dineen said. “You look for the tough stretches, and we understood this would be one of them. It’s part of it; that’s sports. You’re in buildings where they have their openers, and you get one eventually.”
On the flip side, the Panthers will be home for two weeks after returning from Nashville. Florida’s six-game homestand, which runs from Thursday until Nov. 1, is its longest of the season.
The Panthers also have three five-game homestands this season, including one to end the regular season. So things will work out.
“We jumped right into the thick of it,” Dineen said. “There’s a lot of action in a short time, but that’s fun. Sleep in the summer.”
The Panthers sent forward Joey Crabb to their AHL affiliate in San Antonio on Friday, just a day after he played in his first game of the season.
Crabb, 30, has a one-way contract with the Panthers, meaning he will be paid his NHL salary of $600,000 while in the minors. Crabb was waived at the end of training camp but wasn’t claimed. Crabb is signed through next season.
“He didn’t have a good camp, but [the demotion] wasn’t based on just one thing,” Dineen said. “The message I send him is that this isn’t a closed door. He needs to go down and get his game in order so he can help this organization.”
Dineen said that Nick Bjugstad, out since sustaining a concussion Sept. 8 in a prospects game, continues to skate. Bjugstad would need to participate in a few full practices before he could be cleared to play.
• The Panthers’ next full workout will be Monday morning in Coral Springs.