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Panthers playoff drought could finally end Tuesday

Apr 3, 2012, 8:45 AM EDT

Panthers score Getty Images

With Washington’s loss on Tuesday, the Florida Panthers have a chance to secure the Southeast Division with a victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. The Panthers haven’t even made the playoffs since the 1999-2000 campaign and they have never won their division in the history of their franchise.

If the Panthers are able to secure their division, then Panthers GM Dale Tallon deserves a lot of the credit. One of the chief architects of the Chicago Blackhawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup winning team, Tallon has managed to transform the Panthers in less than two years. Three of Panthers’ top four scorers were not in Florida when Tallon took the job. Nor was goaltender Jose Theodore, who has done a superb job replacing Tomas Vokoun this season.

Rookie coach Kevin Dineen also deserves recognition for helping the Panthers absorb quite a few new players from other franchises and integrate them all into their core this season. Players like Brian Campbell who, following two rough seasons with Chicago, has excelled in Florida after being given a key role in power-play situations.

The Winnipeg Jets will not make the playoffs, so at this point they’re primarily playing for personal pride. After this matchup, they will face the New York Islanders on Thursday before finishing their season in Winnipeg for Saturday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

  1. weenerman - Apr 3, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    Thus, leaving the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs as the only team to not make the playoffs post lockout. Never thought I’d say this but…


  2. govtminion - Apr 3, 2012 at 10:26 AM

    Remember last summer when the Panthers were signing third-line players to huge contracts just to meet the league minimum payroll, and we all thought they looked ridiculous for it?

    Apologies to the Panthers. They knew what they were doing far better than I. This group is actually pretty good!

    • atb4 - Apr 3, 2012 at 10:48 AM

      I think they lucked out a bit with how bad that division is, but I agree, much better than expected. They’re certainly taking advantage of loser points as well (17). If they do clinch the division, NJ is probably a good opponent for them. NYR, PIT, BOS, or PHI would probably run right over this team.

      • govtminion - Apr 3, 2012 at 10:54 AM

        No question that the division helped- bad years by Tampa, Carolina, and especially Washington mean the Panthers are in a better spot than they would have been last year. But at the same time, as bad as the Panthers usually are, this is still a huge step forward just in talent and willpower levels from where they have been.

    • davebabychreturns - Apr 3, 2012 at 11:25 AM

      Good on Tallon for getting that team into the playoffs so quickly and winning some good will in the Sunshine State, something this team desperately needed. He did a great job of finding players that, while still overpaid, were ready to step up and take on larger roles.. making the overpayments a bit easier to swallow.

      That being said he is going to have to have his work cut out for him trying to get that franchise to take the next step as those players are still overpaid and while the Panthers have a number of promising young players ready to make their way into the league, either those kids are going to have to be superstars or Tallon will need to scoop up another couple of diamonds in the rough.

      Still, it’s early to be second-guessing his work so far. I think everyone can agree that thusfar his tenure in Florida has been a resounding success, even though they have let some talented players walk for pretty much nothing.

  3. travishenryskid - Apr 3, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    The Southeast doesn’t deserve a playoff spot this year. Hockeys version of the NFC West.

    • Jason Brough - Apr 3, 2012 at 11:20 AM

      Hey, the NFC West has won a playoff game every year since the division became a laughingstock.
      Sad Seahawks fan

    • mehetmet - Apr 3, 2012 at 12:16 PM

      even if they werent division lead, they would still be in with these points. Notice, they are still ahead of the 8th and 9th place team right now.

      • travishenryskid - Apr 3, 2012 at 12:51 PM

        Because they play each other. The teams at the top are hoping the Caps and the Panthers make it because the Sabres are much more dangerous than either of those teams.

  4. hockeyknowledge - Apr 3, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    Panther’s hockey in person is dreadful to watch.

    • hockeyknowledge - Apr 3, 2012 at 11:23 AM

      Although they do win games.

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