With the lockout done and 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 stay in the Southeast Division today for a look at the Florida Panthers.
You could the Florida Panthers’ 2011-12 season The Surprise of Sunrise.
No one figured the Panthers would contend for a playoff spot, nevertheless a division title. With rookie coach Kevin Dineen behind the bench, and a lineup featuring a collection of interesting pieces to strengthen the roster. Florida burst out of the gate, led by the trio of Kris Versteeg, Thomas Fleischmann and Stephen Weiss. Brian Campbell, who waived his no trade clause to come to the perennial sub-.500 club, collected 53 points along the blue line. They held off the Washington Capitals late season charge, securing the organization’s first division title and first postseason trip since 2000.
They gave New Jersey their best shot, bowing out in a seven-game Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series. With a pool of young players ready to make an impact, and the core largely intact from a season ago, the Panthers may once again be a competitive team in the Southeast Division.
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!