Team Playoff Experience and the Rebuilt Florida Panthers

For a Florida Panthers team that stumbled through 12 years before finally making the playoffs, the question of week has been how far will the Panthers make it into the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. While I'm not banking on Florida to go too far, the Cats do have a good deal of prior experience stemming from old teammates on the league champion 2010 Chicago Blackhawks, that fact alone could become an advantage for postseason. The question now becomes, how do the Panthers compare in total playoff games under their belt with the 16 other playoff teams across the two conferences?

I compiled these numbers manually, adding all of the career playoff games played from the active roster that played in their most recent game, thus getting the best roster approximation of what said teams will have entering the playoffs. In other words, take the roster players and scratches from the most recent game(numbers compiled on 4/7) and add each individual playoff GP for the total number.

Team 30+ 0 <=10 Median(PGP) Total
Detroit Red Wings 15 5 5 Jiri Hudler(61) 1495
San Jose Sharks 14 1 7 Antti Niemi(40) 1076
Boston Bruins 15 2 2 Johnny Boychuk(38) 951
Pittsburgh Penguins 14 5 8 Richard Park(38) 918
Vancouver Canucks 14 4 6 Mason Raymond(46) 893
New Jersey Devils 9 4 6 Andy Greene(21) 882
Chicago Blackhawks 14 3 10 Andrew Brunette(43) 867
Philadelphia Flyers 10 5 9 Ilya Bryzgalov(27) 821
Florida Panthers 9 7 9 Scottie Upshall(19) 742
Nashville Predators 10 7 10 Pekka Rinne(18) 608
Ottawa Senators 6 8 16 Zack Smith(6) 555
Washington Capitals 10 4 7 Jeff Schultz(19) 553
Phoenix Coyotes 9 5 10 Keith Yandle(11) 547
Los Angeles Kings 8 5 11 Drew Doughty(12) 490
St Louis Blues 5 6 18 David Backes(4) 486
New York Rangers 6 5 9 Brian Boyle(5) 434

(Team, players with 30+ playoff games played, players with zero PGP, players with ten or less PGP, Median player with PGP, total PGP on playoff roster)

With the Panthers sitting 9th out of 16, things are looking better than I had expected for the Cats, there is one player who breaks 100 playoff games played(John Madden with 134) and a few guys approaching that number. In each category, the differences aren't quite staggering, the Panthers basically look like an average team with average playoff experience. Besides relatively young players who grew through the Panthers organization like Keaton Ellerby and Shawn Matthias, the only big name without playoff experience is of course Stephen Weiss. Luckily for the Panthers, they also have a well experienced goaltender in Jose Theodore who's seen action in 51career playoff games unlike starters Craig Anderson(6) Corey Crawford(8) and Jonathan Quick(12). That's not to say Theodore is better than these goaltenders, but he has seen significantly more playoff minutes which may pay off. Likewise, Florida doesn't exactly have the kind of total numbers the Devils have, but they do have several guys who have gone all the way in recent memory.

Now, for the most interesting bit; how much playoff experience did Dale Tallon wrangle on to the roster since the end of last season? Well, in the 1-0 win against the Capitals, those Panthers had exactly 232 games of playoff experience. The full breakdown follows:

Team 30+ 0 <=10 Median(PGP) Total
10-11 Panthers 3 15 18 Jason Garrison(0!!!) 232

What's even more amazing? After dismissing Sergei Samsonov(76), Steve Bernier(44),Patrick Rissmiller(30), Darcy Hordichuk(17), and Tomas Vokoun(11) in the offseason, Dale Tallon was left with a grand total of 31 playoff games spread amongst Ryan Carter, Tim Kennedy, Mike Weaver and Scott Clemmensen. And the guys from last season still on the team now? 5 games between Weavs and Clemmer. Tallon added 700 odd games of experience via trades and signings since July 1st, 2011. Yeah, you could say Tallon brought in guys who knew how to win.

Whether the Panthers bow down in the first round or not, this is just another example of why Dale Tallon's unorthodox approach to rebuilding the Florida Panthers has so far been a brilliant success. After a horrible recent stretch it seems like a miracle the Panthers made the playoffs, had Tallon not brought in the guys he acquired, it would have been nothing short of impossible for those Cats to make the postseason. Now, they have a chance(albeit small) to actually move past the second round. The second season is upon us, and if the players who racked up 742 playoff games can harness the strength to keep pushing, Florida might do a bit more than scratch the surface.