SUNRISE, FLA. - Tyson Strachan has been around for an NHL playoff series, but didn’t actually play.
That could change on Saturday night, when Strachan is expected to make his playoff debut for the Florida Panthers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal against the New Jersey Devils at the BankAtlantic Center.
The best-of-seven series is tied 2-2.
The Panthers recalled the 27-year-old defenceman from San Antonio, and if Jason Garrison (lower body) does not feel he is okay to play after the pre-game warmup, Strachan will be in the lineup.
“The chance to be up here and in the Stanley Cup playoffs is a hard one to pass up,” Strachan said. “I have been in the atmosphere, but have not been on the ice. If I get in, looking forward to it. I’ll be ready to go if they need me. It’s the best time of year, the time of year we all want to be playing.”
Strachan was with the St. Louis Blues in 2009 when they were swept by the Vancouver Canucks, but he did not play. Strachan has played in 82 regular-season NHL games, including 15 with the Panthers in 2011-12.
It’s expected that Jose Theodore will return to the Panthers net after watching Scott Clemmensen play in Game 4, but as usual, Panthers coach Kevin Dineen would not make an announcement.
“We expect them to do the job like they have their whole careers,” Dineen said. “You have two goalies who have seen so many scenarios over their careers, that they can react and get ready to respond as needed.”
The Devils are coming off a 4-0 win in Game 4, one in which Martin Brodeur made 26 saves after being pulled the previous game. In his career, Brodeur has not finished six playoff games that he has started. In the following start, he has had a shutout three times.
The Devils aren’t overly concerned with whether there is a change on defence for the Panthers. But New Jersey certainly could take advantage of a depleted Florida defence corps.
“I don’t know if Garrison is playing or who they have in,” Devils captain Zach Parise said. “Regardless, I think our approach is going to be the same. Try to get (the puck) below their defence, forecheck them hard. They have got offensive guys who want to jump in the rush, so we have to make it harder for them to do that.
“Ideally, we want to play the game five-on-five. We are doing a really good job, but we do need to have great special teams.”