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Series at a Glance

Devils and Panthers deserve each other

Click here for more on this story

Posted: Wednesday April 12, 2000 06:28 PM

  Scott Niedermayer will miss Game 1 because of his suspension for whacking Peter Worrell. Steve Babineau/Allsport

By Jamie MacDonald, CNNSI.com

On the morning of Jan. 18, the Devils owned a record of 28-13-5. The Panthers, coming off a five-game winning streak, were 27-14-3. Each team led its division.

Then the wheels came off.

Florida would wait until mid-March before winning more than two consecutive games. The dog days also hit the Devils, though they ran off a few wins toward the end of January before going 14-16-3 after the 28th. The Panthers limped home with a record of 16-19-3 over their final 38 games.

Because Scott Niedermayer took actions into his own hands to level a measure of vigilante justice to the head of Peter Worrell, these two teams are also wrapped in a bit of infamy.

In other words, these teams deserve each other.
Season Series Recap

New Jersey 3, Florida 2

SUNRISE, Fla., Jan. 26 -- Patrik Elias extended his franchise-high points streak to 14 games when he picked off a weak clearing effort from Robert Svehla and wristed a shot past Mike Vernon with 3.2 seconds remaining in the game. The goal was Elias's 20th in 21 games and it gave New Jersey its league-leading 70th point. Martin Brodeur picked up win No. 30 on the year, becoming the NHL's first goaltender to do so this season. And it was the first time this season in which Florida lost a game it led after two periods.

New Jersey 5, Florida 2

SUNRISE, Fla., Apr. 3 -- Pavel Bure's 56th and 57th goals paced the Panthers to pick up their fifth win in seven games. New Jersey peppered Mike Vernon with 41 shots, but the former Conn Smythe winner held on for his sixth win in his previous seven starts. Starter Chris Terreri suffered his ninth loss of the season.

Florida 5, New Jersey 2

SUNRISE, Fla., Apr. 3 -- Pavel Bure's 56th and 57th goals paced the Panthers to pick up their fifth win in seven games. New Jersey peppered Mike Vernon with 41 shots, but the former Conn Smythe winner held on for his sixth win in his previous seven starts. Starter Chris Terreri suffered his ninth loss of the season.

New Jersey 2, Florida 1

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Apr. 8 -- In New Jersey's final game of the regular season, Jason Arnott scored on Mike Vernon only 47 seconds into overtime to give the Devils 103 points on the season. Vernon lost for the first time since March 11 and Pavel Bure was held without a point, which snapped his team- and career-best 13-game streak.


Storylines We're Following

It's payback time

Most consider the playoffs a fight-free zone. Perhaps this will change in Game 2, when Scott Niedermayer returns from his suspension for whacking Peter Worrell over the head. Then again, perhaps not. Special teams are so important in the postseason and players are loath to the idea of handing over power play chances in the name of settling old scores.

Mike likes it

Mike Vernon, he of the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe-worthy performance in 1997, was acquired to stop the bleeding when Trevor Kidd went down before the All-Star break. But when Kidd returned, his playoff auditions were not strong enough for Terry Murray's liking. So Vernon, who played well down the stretch, gets the call.

Man of the Hour

As he as all season, Pavel Bure will be the most sparkling offensive force in this postseason. For a small guy he attacks the net like few big men can. But as mentioned above, his giveaways can be costly.

Man on the Spot

In 10 games with the Devils, Bure's former linemate Alexander Mogilny has three goals and three assists. But he is still a gifted scorer and he will be counted on for scoring depth. If he doesn't provide it, the Devils postseason ride could be real short once again.

Bandwagon
Pavel Bure electrifying, but can't give the puck away
Niedermayer family picnics The fam can catch both boys at the same venue
Jason Arnott Scored the team's last three regular-season goals
Refundable Prediction

The Devils will contain Pavel Bure and Patrik Elias will be the series' best offensive player.


 
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