SUNRISE ( – While the Stanley Cup Finals just ended around a week ago, the NHL is wasting no time getting next year’s schedule out. The Florida Panthers will have to wait two games before playing their first home game, but will play a rival.

The Panthers open their home schedule against intrastate rival, the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, October 15. At the other end of the schedule, the Panthers close out the season on April 7, 2012 against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Panthers will call the upcoming season the “Return of Red.” The team also plans to unveil a new home jersey on Friday that the team will wear on opening night.

If you’re looking for something to do on New Year’s Eve, the Panthers will be in action against the Montreal Canadiens starting at 6 p.m., leaving you plenty of time to catch some hockey and still ring in the New Year with friends.

And if you want to see the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, you’ll have to wait until next year. The Bruins don’t make their way to South Florida until January 16.

Click here to view the Panthers’ complete schedule.


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