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How the Devils Would Fare in a Seven-Game Series: Devils Win 4-1
Give credit to the Panthers, it finally looks like they are going to end their decade-long playoff drought. Whether they end up as the Southeast Division champs or get bumped to the seventh or eighth seed, the Panthers definitely deserve to be here. Deserving to be in the playoffs doesn't equate into winning clutch games, however.
Along with their Southeast Division foes the Panthers will most likely enter the playoffs as a team with negative goal differential. They have multiple veterans with playoff experience, but their goaltending and lack of game-changers will be the demise of the cats.
Player That Can Hurt Them the Most: Stephen Weiss
One could easily make a case for Brian Campbell but it will more likely have to be their captain (without wearing the "C") Stephen Weiss. One can't imagine the Panthers are going to have much confidence against many of their potential matchups, and Weiss will need to pull the team together and lead by example.
What Devil Would Need to Make the Biggest Impact: Ilya Kovalchuk
More likely than not, Jose Theodore will start in between the pipes for Florida. This is good news for New Jersey's scorers.
Ilya Kovalchuk is the Devils' most dangerous forward and one of the best snipers in the entire league. If Kovy gets started early and often, the series could be over just after it starts. Kovalchuk has only won one playoff game in his entire career and with the great team he has, you've got to imagine that scoring at a goal-per-game pace at least in the first round is completely doable for him.