CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. The NHL may be running behind schedule, but the Florida Panthers are ahead of the game.
Entering the season, the Panthers are not talking about rebuilding or ending a lengthy playoff drought. They are instead discussing advancing deeper into the postseason and winning a championship.
Florida exceeded expectations last season. The Panthers recorded a 22-point improvement in the standings and captured the Southeast Division title under GM Dale Tallon and rookie coach Kevin Dineen.
Last year's squad endured plenty of adversity in trying to establish the franchise's identity. Florida overcame a major roster overhaul, more than 300 man-games lost to injury, a late-season skid and a horrendous beginning to its eventual seven-game playoff series against the New Jersey Devils.
The Panthers return this hungry, battle-hardened squad largely intact. And with such little turnover in an energized locker room, Tallon believes he's got the right foundation for ...