Carolina Panthers

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Panthers clinch playoff spot for first time since 2000

Everybody was making jokes at the Panthers' expense last summer. There were the Dale Tallon jokes, with the Florida GM filling out the roster with great speed, and sizeable contracts. As free agency opened, the league looked on in awe as Florida announced signing after signing. There was the roster, filled with players that most hockey fans across the league were ready to dismiss as a laughable collection of misfits who didn't seem to fit in anywhere else. By the time training camp opened, half the roster had been turned over, and the team was being led by a first-year NHL coach.

Most people thought the Panthers would be lucky if they could claw themselves a few spots h...