The 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs are upon us. It's time to put on your Devils jersey and crowd around the big screen television. New Jersey's team will take on the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, set to begin on Friday. Between scoreboard watching, tallying up the points, and analyzing the possible first round match-ups, the "Running With The Devils" staff has experienced a busy week. Now that we're in playoff mode, let's take a deeper look at the Devils first round series.

Who: The sixth-seeded New Jersey Devils will take on the third-seeded Florida Panthers. The Devils finished the regular season with 102 points, just seven behind the Rangers, who won the Atlantic Division. Florida, on the other hand, racked up 94 regular season points and won the southeast division in the Eastern Conference.



Season Series: Technically, the Panthers won the season series against the Devils this year. Florida went 2-1-1 (5 points), while New Jersey went 2-2-0 (4 points). New Jersey outscored Florida, however, 12-11.

Will History Repeat Itself: The last time these two teams met in the playoffs, the year was 2000 and the Devils were on their way to an eventual Stanley Cup championship. New Jersey, who held the four seed in the east, swept the fifth-seeded Panthers in four games. New Jersey outscored Florida by a tally of 12-6 and easily advanced to the next round of the playoffs. Will we see a similar performance this year?

Key Players: Adam Henrique will have to step up for the Devils in the opening round of the playoffs. Henrique, a rookie, was a huge factor this season and would provide a large morale boost for the rest of the team if his play continues on the same path that it has all season. On the opposite end, Kris Versteeg has played a huge role in the Panthers organization this year and put up great numbers against New Jersey. We'll see if his play continues in the postseason and if the Devils defense can successfully contain him.


 Darren: I say Devils in six. Looks like we're moving on in the playoffs, as this should be a fairly easy match-up.

 Scott: I say Devils in four. I'm a huge believer in the Devils and with strong goaltending from Martin Brodeur, we'll see the Flyers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. With the way the Devils are playing, it's an insult to say that the Panthers will win this series. Is it too soon to say that I predicted the Devils to win the Stanley Cup this year?

 Devin: Devils in five. Look for New Jersey to win Game One and lose Game Two. After that, it's easy hockey for New Jersey, and they'll take the next three. The defense will have to step up, but it can be done.

 Raj: I agree with Darren. Devils in six. The Devils should win Game One but will drop Game Two. New Jersey will take Game Three and Four. Florida will win Game Five in their home stadium, but New Jersey will take the series when the teams return to New Jersey.

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