Before the playoffs started, if you had asked 10 experts what series they thought for sure wasn’t making it to Game 7, most of them would have said Panthers vs. Devils. Despite grabbing the 3 seed in the east, no one had any faith in the Panthers. They got an absurd amount of points with overtime losses, and were lacking playoff experience, snapping a 15 year playoff drought this year. On the other side, you had the veteran led New Jersey Devils, with future hall of fame goalie Martin Brodeur in net leading the way. No chance the Panthers could win this series, but as they said, “That’s why they play the game!”
How the Panthers can win: Amazingly, after dropping the opening game of the series, the Panther have actually been in control of the series. They snagged game 2, and have not trailed in the series since. The Panthers are 2-1 at home in the series, including an impressive 3-0 shutout victory in the pivotal game 5. The Panthers have been riding their young forwards in this series, grabbing 5 points from both Kris Versteeg and Sean Bergenheim. Bergenheim knows what it takes to win a game 7. He won one last year with the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round. In order for the Panthers to win, they will need to find the net multiple times, and its likely that these two will have to continue their hot play.
How the Devils can win: Granted they were at home, and granted they were “supposed” to win, but it did seem to me like the Devils were finally in control in Game 6. Even when the game went to overtime, I had a feeling that they were going to win the game, and they were able to pull it out. I’ve mentioned him earlier, and its an obvious statement, but the Devils will go as far as Brodeur will take them. This has been a very high scoring series, with three goals being the least amount scored in a single game. While Travis Zajac has led the Devils with 6 points, but they will be looking towards their young star, Ilya Kovalchuk, to carry the load tonight. If the Devils want to move on, Kovalchuk needs to find a way to get multiple points.
Our Prediction: This has been such a weird series. Amazingly, Game 6 was the first time that one team DIDN’T lead 3-0 at some point. Given that its game 7, I think the scoring goes down. Nerves usually get the best of all teams, and goals could be hard to come by. I’m looking along the lines of a 2-1 final score, and I have to lean towards the Devils. Call it stubborness, but I still think they are the better team, and the Caps proved last night that you can overcome home ice for your opponent. So yeah, Devils move on 2-1.
Who do you think will win? Devils or Panthers? Let us know in the comments!