Apr 8, 2012, 8:34 PM EDT
All times are Eastern.
* – if necessary
Friday April 13 in Florida @ 7 p.m. (NHL Network, TSN)
Sunday April 15 in Florida @ 7:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, TSN)
Tuesday April 17 in New Jersey @ 7 p.m. (NHL Network, TSN)
Thursday April 19 in New Jersey @ 7 p.m. (NHL Network, TSN)
*Saturday April 21 in Florida @ 6:30 p.m. (NHL Network, TSN)
*Tuesday April 24 in New Jersey @ TBD (TBD)
*Thursday April 26 in Florida @ TBD (TBD)
Three storylines to follow
1. Goalie questions. Neither team can feel 100 percent comfortable in net. For better or worse, Martin Brodeur is essentially grandfathered into the New Jersey goal while the Panthers might be better off going with Brodeur’s former backup in Scott Clemmensen rather than Jose Theodore. Either way, the goaltending doesn’t look to be a beauty contest.
2. Jersey’s stars. The Devils have the star power category locked up but, aside from Patrik Elias, haven’t thrived in the big time. Ilya Kovalchuk‘s single career playoff win — game, not series — is pretty well-publicized and Zach Parise‘s future remains in question, so there are a lot of moving parts for a team that admittedly looks much better on paper.
3. House money? The Panthers head into the playoffs in a rare spot. They’re the third seed, yet almost certainly the underdogs. They’ve already done more than people expected by a) making the playoffs and b) winning the Southeast. Playing with house money and home ice advantage? Not too shabby.
Florida: 38-26-18, 94 points (1st in Southeast; 3rd in Eastern Confrence) | New Jersey: 48-28-6, 102 points (4th in Atlantic; 6th in Eastern Conference)
Florida: Tomas Fleischmann (27G-31A-61PTS) | New Jersey: Ilya Kovalchuk (37G-46A-83PTS)
Florida: Jose Theodore (22-16-11, 2.46 GAA) or Scott Clemmensen (14-6-6, 2.57 GAA) | New Jersey: Martin Brodeur (31-21-4, 2.41 GAA)
Season series tied at 2-2
Nov. 21: At Florida 4, New Jersey 3
Dec. 13: New Jersey 3, at Florida 2, SO
Jan. 6: At New Jersey 5, Florida 2
Feb. 11: Florida 3, at New Jersey 1
Last 10 games
Florida: 2-3-5 | New Jersey: 7-2-1
New Jersey leads 1-0 (4-0 in 2000 Eastern Conference quarterfinals)
Florida: Did not qualify | New Jersey: Did not qualify
Florida: None | New Jersey: 3 (1995, 2000, 2003)
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