Hockey World Blog

Devils and Panthers Clash in Game 6

The Florida Panthers have been forced to cut off rat sales at the BankAtlantic Center due to the rodents being thrown on the ice during play.

In a playoff year that has seen its fair share of overtime games, there has been one series that has yet to go past 60-minutes. You might say it’s the forgotten series in the East as the New Jersey-Florida series has been buried between the explosive series seen between Philadelphia-Pittsburgh, Washington-Boston, and New York- Ottawa. But between these two teams, there is still a lot to be played for as the Panthers hold a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 at Prudential Center. Heading into tonight’s game, here are notes from each team.

What Could Happen to Parise and Brodeur?

The leaders of the Devils are unrestricted free agents at the end of this season. It’s going to be difficult to see someone between the pipes in a Devils uniform other than Brodeur. He’s been with the team since 1993-94 and has broken nearly every conceivable goaltending record in the NHL. Just like Nicklas Lidstrom in Detroit, this could be the last time we see Brodeur on the ice. Should he retire, the Devils could potentially have two goalies to replace as Johan Hedberg will also enter unrestricted free agency.

Parise has been with the Devils his entire seven-year career and he’s worn the “C” on his jersey since January 2011 when Jamie Langenbrunner was traded to Dallas. If the NHL was structured pre-lockout, most fans would be confident Parise would return and help establish himself as a legend and long time captain of his team among the likes of Detroit’s Steve Yzerman and Calgary’s Jarome Iginla. But with his current $6 million contract and Ilya Kovakchuk making $11+ million the next three seasons, the team could not afford Parise even if he’s asking between $9 and $9.5 million per season if he signs a long-term contract. This season, he was one of only five Devils to appear in all 82 regular-season games. Quite impressive coming off a knee injury that limited him to 12 games last season. He finished second on the team with 31 goals and was third in assists (38) and points (69). He became only the second player in team history to score 30 goals five times.

A Long Time Coming for Florida Fans

When I read about Kris Versteeg talking about the ‘Rat Trick’ craze , it brought back memories of their Stanley Cup playoff run in 1996 where they were swept by Colorado. The franchise is one-win away from winning a playoff series for the first time since they defeated Pittsburgh in a thrilling seven-game series that magical year that saw rats raining down on the ice like octopus in Detroit. Ed Jovanoski returned to the Panthers after 12 years split between Vancouver and Phoenix and looks to has provided veteran experience during the season. 1996 was his rookie season with Florida. Until the Panthers won Game 2, they had won only one playoff game since 1996 when they won Game 1 in 1997 before losing four straight to the Rangers. The fans in south Florida have suffered enough with bad hockey, the least the team can do is give them one more four-game series to entice them to remain on the bandwagon entering next season. After winning a division that featured Washington, Tampa Bay, and having to travel to Winnipeg three times this season for a ‘divisional’ game, if bench boss Kevin Dineen isn’t nominated for the Jack Adams award as best coach, it will be a travesty.

Florida Panthers at New Jersey Devils, Game 6: 7:30 pm ET on NBC Sports Network.

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