On Friday, the Florida Panthers will participate in their first playoff game since 2000. The length of their former drought is staggering to say the least, but if you assume that their first round opponents, the New Jersey Devils, have a big edge in postseason experience, you would be mistaken.
Although the Devils have been almost the polar opposite of the Panthers when it comes to their ability to get to the playoffs, the thing you have to keep in mind is that Panthers GM Dale Tallon has made sweeping changes to his team in recent years. As a consequence, 15 of the 20 players projected to play for the Panthers on Friday already have some playoff experience under their belts. Some Panthers like Brian Campbell and John Madden have even won the Stanley Cup before.
Their coach, Kevin Dineen, also has 59 games worth of postseason experience on his resume, although that was as a player, not a coach. Still, it helps that Dineen and so many of his players understand what it means to compete in the first round and beyond.