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Florida Panthers close training camp, head to Toronto today

Life inside a bubble awaits as Cats begin Stanley Cup chase

Toronto moves into phase two with the rest of Ontario as the province tries to slow the spread of COVID-19 Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

After closing its two week training at Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs yesterday with a spirited scrimmage, the Florida Panthers will fly to Toronto today to begin what is hopefully a deep run in the 24-team 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Panthers will get a couple practices in before facing the Tampa Bay Lightning in an exhibition game tune-up on Wednesday at noon at Scotiabank Arena.

On Saturday, the Cats will play its first game that counts since they beat the St. Louis Blues 2-1 all the way back on March 9, when they open a best-of-five series against the New York Islanders, the team that knocked them out of the 2016 postseason.

Here is the series schedule:

(7) New York Islanders vs. (10) Florida Panthers

Saturday, Aug. 1: Panthers vs. Islanders, 4 p.m. ET – Fox Sports Florida, NBCSN

Tuesday, Aug. 4: Panthers vs. Islanders, 12 p.m. ET – Fox Sports Florida, NBCSN

Wednesday, Aug. 5: Islanders vs. Panthers, 12 p.m. ET – Fox Sports Florida, NBCSN

Friday, Aug. 7: Islanders vs. Panthers (if necessary)

Sunday, Aug. 9: Panthers vs. Islanders (if necessary)

Injured defenseman Aaron Ekblad is “progressing” according to head coach Joel Quenneville and should be available for Game 1, so the Panthers should face the Isles with its top 20 intact.

After four-plus months of uncertainty, we are just six sleeps away from playoff hockey.

Tomorrow, I will publish Phase 1 of our annual playoff predictions contest, so be ready with you picks.

Let’s get it on!