In the week leading up to the opening game between the Florida Panthers and the New Jersey Devils, SBNation New York will take a look at all aspects of the first-round matchup. Make sure to check out SBNation's StoryStream for all the news and analysis of the series.
There aren't too many aspects of the opening round series the New Jersey Devils would be considered dominant. But, when looking at the team's offensive output, it's almost a no contest.
Florida enters the playoffs for the first time in 12 years, and managed to hold off the Washington Capitals for the Southeast Division champs. They enter the game 27th in the league in goals (197), and were 27th in points (536). Tomas Fleischmann, who played all 82 games for the first time in his career, led the Panthers with 27 goals and 61 points. Kris Versteeg was one of their clutch scorers, netting 23 goals. Stephen Weiss was the third scorer to reach the 20-point plateau, and Brian Campbell led the blueline attack with 49 assists and 53 points.
The Panthers carry an abysmal minus-24 goal differential into the series. That's better than just nine teams in the league and the worst since the lockout. It's the worst since the Ottawa Senators made the playoffs sporting a minus-13 goal differential in 2010. They lost in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Devils won't be able to sit back against Florida, though. Fleischmann, Versteeg and Weiss scored seven of the Panthers' 11 goals against New Jersey this season.
New Jersey comes into the playoffs with a better offensive output. Ilya Kovalchuk highlighted a group that finished 14th in the league in points (589) and 15th in the league in goals (216). Kovalchuk led the team with 37 goals and ranked fifth in the league with 83 points. But he wasn't the only one to produce. The Devils received balance scoring from three of their lines, with guys like Patrik Elias (26g, 52a) and David Clarkson (30g, 16a) providing above-average secondary scoring. Throw in the likes of Zach Parise and Adam Henrique, and the Devils can send out some serious firepower.
The Devils enter with a solid goal differential. The team was plus-11 this season, and much of that came from the stellar penalty kill. That's the fifth-best goal differential among the Eastern Conference playoff teams, far behind the better offensive teams like the Philadelphia Flyers (plus-35) and the Boston Bruins (plus-61).
Despite the solid numbers, Devils goalie Martin Brodeur thinks Kovalchuk's play will be key to getting the offense going.
"That will open it up for some other guys to be successful," he told Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger. "Kovy is a key for us. He's going to be challenged in certain areas he needs to be ready for and he's excited for the challenge, just by talking to talk about it the last month or so. He's probably the one that will have the hardest time waiting. He wants to get going and that's a great thing."
In the battle of offenses, there's no question - the New Jersey Devils have the advantage.
For more news and notes on the Devils, visit In Lou We Trust. For all your Panthers news, check out Litter Box Cats.