It has been 16 years since the Florida Panthers won their last playoff series, but they will get their chance to end the drought this Tuesday night when they battle the New Jersey Devils in Game 6 of this first-round best-of-seven Eastern Conference playoff series. The game is set to get underway at 4:30 p.m. (PT) from the Prudential Center and it will be broadcast nationally on the NBC Sports Network.
Series Outlook > Florida
Florida took a huge step towards advancing in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs with a solid 3-0 shutout in Game 5 as a 105 home underdog that gave it the 3-2 series lead. This followed an ugly 4-0 loss to the Devils in Game 4 as a 144 road underdog. The first three games of this series remained tight with each team winning a game by one goal after New Jersey won Game 1 by two.
The Panthers have split the goaltending duties in the first five games with Jose Theodore seeing the bulk of the action and former Devil Scott Clemmensen playing Games 3 and 4. Look for Theodore to get the start on Tuesday night after turning away all 30 shots he faced in this past Saturday’s game. Florida will also need another big night from Kris Versteeg, who has tallied two goals and two assists in this series.
Series Outlook > New Jersey
The key to New Jersey forcing a Game 7 is to ride the energy of the home-town crowd. The Devils closed-out the regular season with four-straight victories at home in which they outscored their opponents 14-8. Even with a home loss in Game 3, they have outscored the Panthers 7-4 at the Prudential Center.
Another key will be the play of goalie Martin Brodeur. The future ‘Hall of Famer’ looked the part in New Jersey’s two wins in this series, especially by stopping 26 of 26 Florida shots in Game 4, but he has also given-up some soft goals along the way. The Devils have outshot the Panthers 145 to 135 but have been outscored 13-12.
Series Betting Trends
The Panthers are 1-5 in their last six games playing on two day’s rest and 1-5 in their last six games on the road. The total has stayed UNDER in six of their last nine games as underdogs on the road.
The Devils are 40-18 in their last in their last 58 games as favourites but just 1-4 in their last five playoff games as the NHL betting favourites. The total has stayed UNDER in four of their last seven games overall.
Head-to-head, the underdog is 5-1 in the last six meetings and the total has been evenly split at 4-4-2 in the last 10. Florida is just 8-21-1 in its last 30 games on the road against New Jersey and 18-42-3 in the last 63 meetings overall. The total in this series is an even 2-2-1 through the first five games.
Given the way the home team has completely dominated the last two games in this series, it presents a perfect opportunity to capitalize on the Devils in Game 6 as they take this series the distance with the win.
The Free NHL Pick: New Jersey 4 Florida 2