Welcome South Florida and the world to PanthersHockey's 2012 Panther's year in review. This is where our final thoughts on the 2011-12 season will be discussed. First off the Florida Panthers came into this season with no expectation of making the playoffs. The best "experts" had them at was 9th and worst at last in the Eastern Conference. General manager Dale Tallon assembled a new core for the team that was older but carried with them a winning spirit that the team desperately needed to introduce into the franchise after 12 years of mediocrity and cellar dwelling. Mr. Tallon was not afraid to make moves during the season either as he dealt whenever the team was in need of a shakeup and almost always they worked. The team surprisingly started off the season well enough to take the lead in the Southeast division which "experts" said would belong to the Washington Capitals with ease. The Panthers were the most stingy team in the league as they played with one goal leads with cardiac regularity. The team's woes this season were a lack of scoring and an inability to perform well in overtime especially when shootouts happened. Their penchant for taking games into overtime was one of the biggest reasons they grabbed as many points as they did. The Panthers would enter the All Star break clinging to the hotly contested Southeast division which was a dog fight all season and had all teams within striking distance of leading it at some point. The team briefly lost the lead as the Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets would not fade away. The team delat with a lot of injuries to key players and had to rely on callups from their AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage. All those players were unsung heroes as they held the fort nicely as the team entered March leading the division for most of the season. It always seemed like just when everybody thought the team would collapse they regrouped and found their way back. The biggest moment of the season came in mid-March. The Panthers had struggled all season to pull of a long winning streak of more than three games. Well they won five in a row which placed them in position to possibly run away with the division. They however ran into an alarming spiral losing to the worst teams in the league. It took losses by other Eastern foes for the Cats to even make the playoffs. They did so with only 1 game left in the season. The team shook off an NHL record streak of 10 season without a playoff appearance but with one game left they could still win their division. In the high point of the season the team defeated the Carolina Hurricanes for their first division championship. They faced the New Jersey Devils in a series "experts" thought the Devils would win easily. They did win but it took 7 games and a double overtime thriller to defeat the Panthers. After so much blood, sweat, tears, and rats from the team and their fans, it was over. But Mr. Tallon reminded everyone that this is only the beginning of the resurgence of the Florida Panthers. The team has a massive bumper crop of draft picks from the past two seasons prepping for the NHL, and the hope is there that they will make this franchise contenders for the Stanley Cup in the coming years. Florida Panthers fans Act I has finally concluded, the intermission has started. Get ready for Act II!
2011-12 Most Valuable Player Award: All-Star Defenseman Brian Campbell
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Stay tuned for PanthersHockey's coverage of the 2012 NBA Playoffs for the Miami Heat.