Congratulations to Dale Tallon, coach Dineen and the entire Panthers organization on your first of hopefully many South East Divisional Championships.
The Panthers did what they needed to do. Their fate was in their hands and they closed it out in convincing fashion with a 4-1 victory over their divisional foe the Carolina Hurricanes. Scoring was provided by Goc, Madden, Weiss and an empty netter by Mikael Samuelsson who was a force in the offensive zone with a goal and two assists. By the Panthers winning over the Canes it rendered the Capitals win over the Rangers irrelevant. I should not take delight in that but somehow I do. Let a new team wear the crown in the SE for a change.
The Panthers have the number three seed in the Eastern Conference and will now prepare to go on and face the 6th seeded New Jersey Devils. What however, this organization has accomplished in such a short period of time is nothing new for Dale Tallon who did the same thing in Chicago when the Blackhawks went on to win their Stanley Cup probably a couple of years ahead of schedule. Tallon and the Panthers are hoping for the same results.
The best part of being a divisional champion is the home ice advantage that the Panthers will now enjoy, which is huge in the second season. In the regular season this series was split at two apiece which makes the home ice loom even larger. All teams now have a clean slate and anything can happen.
This will mark the first time the Panthers have been in the playoffs since 2000 where oddly enough they faced the NJ Devils and were eliminated by them in the first round as that team went on to win the Stanley Cup. It will not be an easy task but lets hope the Cats can return the favor this year.
Florida Panthers fans get ready to enjoy the ride known as the NHL playoffs. Go support your team because with home ice you CAN make a difference for them. Enjoy and Good Luck on the quest for the Cup!