It’s like night and day between the Panthers and the Devils right now. Florida has lost their last four games, while New Jersey has rolled off four straight wins. Florida is still without David Booth from when he got rocked in Philly and they are also without Cory Stillman. The Devils leader on D, Paul Martin, David Clarkson and Dainius are all injured themselves.
Right now, those three injuries aside, the Devils are rolling. They are getting great play from Broduer, their defense has been stifling and their offense has really stepped up. The offense is the most satisfying to see succeed. Coming into the year, you knew the Devils would be alright between the pipes and on the blueline, but with Lemaire back, question arose about the offense they could sustain. Well, they have been fine. They get the job done when they need to, whether they get goals from behind or just the extra one to put an opponent away.
As for Florida, they are struggling, but Vokoun is playing well as usual (when he isn’t being beaten to death by his own teammates). He sports a 2.65 GAA and has 3 shutouts this season. The known upside for the Cats, are their younger guys that are up and coming. Nathan Horton, Stephen Weiss, Michael Frolik and have even gotten good play out of Steven Reinprect. However, the problem is their defense. They have given up a whopping 106 goals already and we aren’t even at the half-way mark of the season.
Regardless of the flaws of the Panthers, they still have the capabilities to upset Jersey if the Devils get out of the gate slowly and let the Panthers dictate the game (which the Devils let happen early on from time to time). Like any NHL team, the Devils cannot sit back on the Panthers because they have a few fellas that can bury the puck. Although they have a poor defense, we still need to apply consistent pressure, because Vokoun has displayed before why he is one of the most under-rated goalies in the league.