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And then there were 8: Panthers go out swinging

Apr 27, 2012, 12:31 AM EDT

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The Florida Panthers came one goal short of their first playoff series win in ages, but for the first time in more than a decade, they can enter the summer with their heads held high. They showed a lot of heart in a seven-game series with the New Jersey Devils, overcoming a 2-0 third period deficit to push the game to double overtime before Adam Henrique ended their surprisingly successful season 3-2.

What happened?

It seemed as if the Devils were the better team when they absolutely had to be. They generated a 42-16 shot disparity in a 3-2 OT win in Game 6 and while they almost coughed up the lead in Game 7, New Jersey still prevailed.

Who takes the blame?

Sure there was instability in net, but the Panthers got pretty good to great goaltending for most of the series. In fact, it’s kind of tough to truly blame anyone, although Florida’s depth scorers didn’t come through – which pretty much matches their regular season. Players like Kris Versteeg and Stephen Weiss were productive, but the drop-off was steep.

What will they do about it?

Depending upon whom you ask, Florida wasn’t really supposed to get this far so soon. The Panthers have an increasingly rich pool of prospects, particularly goalie of the future Jacob Markstrom and 2011 first-rounder Jonathan Huberdeau.

The biggest areas of change will come in those prospects taking the spots of marginal players such as Wojtek Wolski. Scott Clemmensen is likely to leave but with Jose Theodore under contract for one more season, Florida doesn’t have to add a free agent goalie.

Consider the 2011-12 season laying down the foundation for what the Panthers hope will be bigger things in the not-too-distant future.

More

And then there were 15: Is Detroit’s dynasty on its last legs?

And then there were 14: Sharks come out flat in playoffs

And then there were 13: Powerhouse Pens fall flat

And then there were 12: Presidents’ Trophy-winning Canucks bounced in Round 1

And then there were 11: Another first-round exit for Blackhawks

And then there were 10: Bruins run out of Game 7 magic

And then there were 9: Senators out, but future’s bright

  1. scottfmullin - Apr 27, 2012 at 12:47 AM

    Proud of the Panthers. They showed guts to tie the game, but they just had nothing left in the tank when the game went into 2OT.

  2. chasemutley - Apr 27, 2012 at 12:54 AM

    Hopefully the playoff influx helps sway ownership to spend more wisely. Over spending to get to the cap floor doesn’t get the job done.

  3. govtminion - Apr 27, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    Very impressive season, considering a year ago we were laughing at them for having to play marginal players so much just to hit the league’s minimum cap. It was an odd collection of spare parts, for a lot more money than they would have liked no doubt, but it worked- it took them to the playoffs (despite backing in the way they did), it took them to double-OT of the seventh game of the first round against a pretty damned good Devils team… and the future looks bright.

    A friend of mine suggested they should go after Rick Nash in the offseason. Totally honest? No. This is a lunchbox team that works best when everyone is doing their job. Bringing in a central superstar like Nash means they turn into the Thrashers of yesteryear- everyone waiting on the big name to do something, and everyone else just kind of existing. Please don’t do that, Panthers.

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