The Florida Panthers may be the Eastern Conference's No. 3 seed heading into the Stanley Cup playoffs, but they are not the favorites.
That's because the New Jersey Devils are red hot, and the Panthers are anything but.
The Devils have won six straight games, including victories over the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. During this streak, they've outscored their opponents, 22-9.
The Devils are silencing their critics one by one. They haven't been as consistent offensively as they like, but they have three players in Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk and David Clarkson who have each scored at least 30 goals.
And the Devils, despite not being as talented defensively, have made the most out of their talent. They held opponents to 2.5 goals per game in the regular season, eighth best in the NHL. They have the defense, complete with goalie Martin Brodeur, to frustrate the Panthers' 27th-ranked offense.
The Panthers have gone 2-3-5 in their last 10 games and have given up 21 goals in their past four games. To be fair, virtually no one picked them to make the playoffs this season, and they deserve credit for getting to the postseason, but they are heading in the wrong direction while Pete DeBoer's team has steadily improved.
This has all the makings of an "upset," if you can even call it that. The Devils racked up more points than the Panthers this season, but the Panthers got the No. 3 seed because they won the Southeast Division. Florida also had a goal difference of minus-24 while New Jersey ended up with a plus-19.
It would actually be an upset if the Panthers won the series.
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