With the lockout all but done*, and the framework of the schedule for this shortened season already decided, The Devils’ Den will give you an in-depth look at the team’s opponents this season. We kick it off today with a look at the Boston Bruins.
The Stanley Cup hangover was alive and well in Beantown last year. After winning the organization’s first championship since the 1971-72 team, the Bruins stumbled out of the gate, finishing with the worst opening month for a defending champion since the playoff format changed in 1994.
That all changed, though, as Boston found its footing. The Bruins finished with a 49-29-4 record, winning the Northeast Division and completing a second straight 40-win, 100-point season. They lost in the quarterfinals, falling in seven games to the Washington Capitals.
The Bruins had the most overseas players during the lockout, and welcome back the likes of Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand and a healthy Nathan Horton. But the big question will be in between the pipes, where Tuukka Rask takes over as the team’s number one goalie.
Throughout the offseason and training camp, The Devils’ Den will preview the Devils 2010-2011 schedule, giving you an in-depth preview of the 29 other teams the Devils will face next season. We’ve already completed several previews, all of which can be found under the “Season Preview” tab. In today’s preview, we go to the Eastern Conference, taking a look at this season’s matchup with the Florida Panthers.
Devils vs. Panthers – Historical Data
In 69 all-time regular season meetings against the Panthers, the Devils are 41-21-7-0. New Jersey averages 2.78 goals against Florida, and allows the Panthers to average 2.10 goals against them. Last season, the team’s squared off four times, with the team’s splitting the season series, 2-2-0.
The Devils won the first matchup of the season, 3-2, in Florida. After a scoreless first period, Rob Niedermayer opened the game’s scoring, giving the Devils a lead, 1-0, at 11:14 of the period. Rostislav Olesz pulled the Panthers even, scoring at 13:58 to tie the game at one. Travis Zajac would restore the Devils’ lead, putting New Jersey ahead, 2-1, with a powerplay goal at 17:47 of the second period.
But, once again, the Panthers would battle back. Stephen Weiss tied the game, netting a powerplay goal at 14:37 of the third period to knot the game at two. David Clarkson played the hero for New Jersey, scoring the team’s second powerplay goal at 16:25 to put the Devils ahead, 3-2.
The Panthers evened the season series on December 11, defeating the Devils, 4-2, at the Prudential Center. Jordan Leopold put the Panthers on the board first, scoring at 3:53 of the first period to put Florida ahead of New Jersey, 1-0. Michael Frolik extended the lead, putting the Panthers ahead, 2-0, at 2:24 of the second period. Shawn Matthais scored a minute later, pushing the lead to 3-0. But the Devils wouldn’t fold it in.
Brian Rolston put New Jersey on the board, scoring at 7:16 to cut Florida’s lead to 3-1. Dean McAmmond drew the Devils even closer, scoring just 1:05 into the third period to shrink the Panthers’ lead to 3-2. But the effort wouldn’t pay off, as Frolik scored the proverbial dagger at 2:23 of the third period to restore Florida’s two-goal lead which put them ahead, 4-2.
The Devils blanked Florida, 2-0, on January 20 at The Rock. It took almost two full periods, but Zajac put the Devils on the board first, scoring the game’s first goal at 18:30 of the second period to give the Devils a lead, 1-0. McAmmond iced the victory at 19:59 of the third period, tapping in a shorthanded, empty-net goal for the 2-0 lead. Martin Brodeur finished with 22 saves for the shutout win. Tomas Vokoun stopped 31 shots in the loss.
For more of the preview, read after the jump!