The Florida Panthers’ early exit from Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is a surprise to some, and not so much for others.
Let’s face it. The Panthers were not pegged to do too good this year. In fact, lots had them missing the playoffs all together. However, in a weak division, they landed the No. 3 seed to take on an equally talented opponent in the New Jersey Devils.
Yesterday’s 4-3 loss in Game 7 isn’t the start of more disappointment to come. Panthers GM Dale Tallon was seen as a big spender with no plan last summer. Alas, we saw the final product he orchestrated. And it’s not too bad.
Let’s give the Panthers credit, first of all, for making it to the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.
Remember. The Chicago Blackhawks were a scrappy, molding team looking to form a new identity. Consider these Florida “Blackhwaks” a part of Tallon 2.0.
Like the Blackhawks needed, the Panthers are just shy of a few upgrades to be serious contenders. The No. 3 spot in the playoffs is a tricky one. It indicates you’re the best in your division, but the worst-ranked division leader. So, naturally, they were met with adversity.
The Devils became relevant again, and, more so, Martin Brodeur became relevant again.
Rather than despair, the Panthers will be looking to add the final pieces needed this summer. After all, that’s what the Blackhawks did with Marian Hossa, for example.
And with so much invested in Florida, there’s no way Tallon will stand still or back peddle.
Look out for another strong year next time around from these Cats.
*Quick fact: The last time the Panthers were in the playoffs, in 2000, they also faced the New Jersey Devils. However, then, the Devils knocked out the Panthers in a 4-0 series decision, and ultimately won the Cup.