Apr 7, 2012, 10:00 PM EDT
It took seven coaches, seven general managers and 12 years, but the Florida Panthers are playoff-bound. Making the postseason probably feels like a first, yet the real first came on Saturday as Kevin Dineen and Dale Tallon’s squad won their first ever Southeast Division title after handling the Carolina Hurricanes a 4-1 defeat.
Ever since winning five games in a row from March 11-21, things have been awfully shabby for the Cats. Tonight’s victory marks just their second since that point, as they went 2-3-5 in the final 10 games of the season. If you want an even clearer picture of their punch-less finish, chew on this: today marks their first regulation win since they beat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 on March 20.
The Panthers lacked much bite lately, so many will probably predict the sixth-seeded New Jersey Devils to “upset” them in the first round. Most (if not all) of the numbers seem to speak in the Devils’ favor.
Right now, the Panthers could probably care less. The franchise has taken a huge step in the right direction and you never know how far they can go if things bounce the right way in the playoffs.
- Of course: ‘Hawks, Ducks’ back-and-forth series is going to Game 7 11
- WATCH LIVE: Ducks at Blackhawks, Western Conference Final Game 6 1
- As Bolts deal with illness, extra day of rest could prove beneficial 10
- Sounds like it’s Rundblad, not TVR, in for Chicago on defense 16
- On Kreider, and trying ‘to turn the other cheek’ 39
- Report: Sharks to name DeBoer head coach 17
- Video: Lundqvist helps lead Rangers back to New York for Game 7 6
- Lightning get taken to ‘school of hard knocks’ in third-period collapse 11
- A storm brewing: Rangers rally to force Game 7 with Lightning (Video) 11
- Video: Lundqvist stones Stamkos with left-pad save 0
- Kesler on wearing down Chicago: ‘No human can withstand that many hits’ (75)
- What’s wrong with Lundqvist? (70)
- From healthy scratch to hero: Vermette scores OT winner for Blackhawks (66)
- Fetisov wants to restrict young Russians from playing in the NHL (53)
- Babcock wants to ‘put Canada’s team back on the map’ (49)