In our new series, we'll each day go over what the Panthers have done in past seasons. Over an 18 season existence, the Panthers have endured more bad than good. I'm not going to play favorites here, and this list will prove inclusive so long as the lockout persists. There isn't a lot of media available online for a lot of the action pre-lockout (the last one), so bear with me on the older games. Some of you long-timers will remember these matches, and we're always happy for feedback and discussion.
That being said, let's get on with this!
Coming off a second-consecutive playoff appearance, the Panthers sought to repeat as contenders in 1997-98, opening a new season on the road in Philadelphia. Over their four-year history, Florida had gone 6-10-4 in the regular season against the (mostly) Eric Lindros-led Flyers. They also eliminated Philly in six games during the 1996 Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Eastern Conference Semifinal round. The recap below comes courtesy of the NY Times:
Free-agent acquisition Chris Gratton had a goal and an assist as the Philadelphia Flyers opened the National Hockey League season with a 3-1 victory last night at home over the Florida Panthers.
Gratton, the former Tampa Bay Lightning center who signed a five-year, $16.5 million contract with the Flyers, scored the game's first goal, and the Flyers never trailed.
The rookie Vinny Prospal had two assists and Ron Hextall made 23 saves for Philadelphia, which advanced to the Stanley Cup finals last year only to be swept in four games by the Detroit Red Wings.
Rob Niedermayer scored for the Panthers, who got 26 saves from John Vanbiesbrouck, including one on Trent Klatt on a penalty shot.
The Flyers scored twice on five power plays, while Florida went 0 for 6 with the man advantage.
Eight of the 13 penalties called by Referee Bill McCreary were for interference, reflecting the N.H.L.'s insistence that it will police such infractions more closely.
Scott Mellanby earned an assist on Florida's only goal. Dainius Zubrus and Pat Falloon - taken one pick after Lindros in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft - added Philadelphia's other two goals. Click here for the box score.
The Panthers would continue their season-opening road trip three days later on the road against the Penguins.
Does anyone remember the 1997 season opener? Check back tomorrow for more day-to-day Panthers history.