The Florida Panthers are the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference but still nobody has faith in them. Even with home-ice advantage in the first round, the Panthers are the longest shot (55-1) to win the Stanley Cup.

On Friday, they’ll try to start proving hockey bettors wrong when they host the New Jersey Devils for Game 1 of their first-round series. One of the reasons nobody has faith in Florida is because they lost eight of their final 10 games to end the season, have a goaltending controversy and are facing a red hot Devils team. 

Friday, April 13th

NHL Odds: Devils -115 

 

The New Jersey Devils can win because… 

They’re the better team. While the Panthers finished third and he Devils finished sixth, the Devils totaled eight more points than Florida. 

Adam LarssonThe Panthers are a one-trick pony with only one good line of offense: Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg and Tomas Fleischmann. Beyond those three, the Panthers didn’t have a single forward with more than 32 points this season. 

On the flip side, the Devils had four 30-goal scorers, which is not typical for them, and they’ve got far more balance. 

The Devils won their final six games of the regular season but really, they’ve been playing great hockey since the start of January. They finished the year on 27-12-4 and had they played like that the entire season, they would have won the East. 

The Panthers are short on experience as this is their first playoff appearance in 12 years. The Devils are seasoned and they’ll be ready to go for Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs

The Florida Panthers can win because… 

They’re being completely underestimated. 

The Panthers had an impressive season – by their standards – and there’s a reason why they won the Southeast Division: they’re a decent team. Not only do they have one main, dominant offensive line, they also have an excellent corps on the blue line. Brian Campbell and Jason Garrison contribute quite a bit offensively and that’s a main reason why the Panthers are where they are. 

There’s a good chance the Panthers opt for Scott Clemmensen in net in Game 1 and while most people mock that decision, it might not be a bad one. Clemmensen finished the season 3-0-1 in his final four starts with a .962 save percentage. He’s a perfect 4-0-0 against his former team with a 2.05 GAA. 

There’s no pressure on this Panthers team to perform since the expectations are so low. They’re playing with the house’s money and that might give them an edge on Friday. 

Outlook & NHL Betting Prediction: 

Stranger things have happened on Friday the 13th but who’s really interested in trusting the Panthers in this spot? They’re a “happy to be here” type of playoff team while the Devils mean business. On top of that, the Panthers are cold, the Devils are hot, and New Jersey has the edge in almost every realm. Florida doesn’t even know who their starting goaltender will be as Jose Theodore slumped down the stretch while Scott Clemmensen played well. 

Since it’s such a small price to pay on the road, take New Jersey. 

NHL Picks: Devils