NHL power rankings 10.0: Panthers leaping into playoff picture

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SportsPulse: The NHL trade deadline finished with a flurry of deals, but none bigger than Ryan McDonagh heading to Tampa Bay. See who were the big winners of deadline day.
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At the start of the season, general manager Dale Tallon described his Florida Panthers defense as “Keith Yandle and a bunch of kids.”

“I had a vision that we might struggle early because six of our defensemen hadn’t played much more than 200 games,” Tallon said. “But I felt if we could be around .500 at Christmas, we would have a good second half.”

The Panthers almost met Tallon’s expectations, entering the Christmas break at 15-17-5. But they’ve exceeded his hopes and everyone else’s by going 13-3 since the NHL All-Star break.

“We are starting to get some confidence,” Tallon said. “The younger players are starting to play with a little authority, more composure. I give our coaches a lot of credit.”

Yandle, 31, is having one of his best NHL seasons. Aaron Ekblad, 22, has taken a step up in the second half, along with Mike Matheson, 24. Mark Pysyk and Alex…

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