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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Florida Panthers Focused on Rangers, Not the Stanley Cup Final



Florida panthers
Anton Lundell, center, celebrates with his Florida Panthers teammates after scoring the game-tying goal in the second period of Game 5 on Thursday night in New York. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

The Florida Panthers are a win away from making a trip to the Stanley Cup Final for the second straight year.

Just don’t tell anyone in the locker room that.

They do not want to hear it.

After a 3-2 win in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final gave them a 3-2 led in the Eastern Conference final, the Panthers are not focused on the Final.

They’re focused on taking down the New York Rangers in Game 6 on Saturday night in Sunrise.

“I don’t think we’ve thought about it at all,” Sam Bennett said. “We’ve got business to take care of still. We’ve got Game 6 at home and our entire focus is on that.”

The Panthers are taking the same mindset they’ve had for each of their five close-out victories over the past two years: Take it day by day and focus on playing their style of game.

“We don’t think that far,” Sergei Bobrovsky said. “We think about one moment at a time. Right now, we just enjoy this win, get good food and hydration, and get ready for the next one.”

They won’t let the looming thought of a chance at redemption in the Stanley Cup Final get them out of their rhythm for the next two days.

”Right now we just need to recover and think about that,” Sasha Barkov said. “When the game comes, you think about the game. That’s all e can do right now. We don’t want to think about that too much.”

If that sounds like something someone that has been there before would say, it’s because it is.

The Panthers spent the entire Eastern Conference final living on the edge last year, winning all four games by a single goal including two wins in overtime.

This year has been more of the same, with three of the first four games ending in overtime before Anton Lundell scored the go-ahead goal with 9:38 to go in regulation to help the Panthers Game 5 win 3-2.

“We have the experience of what it’s like to be on the bench and down 1 or even,” coach Paul Maurice said. “If you go back to that Carolina series last year, we won four straight and they were all tight.

“It’s very very similar [to this series] at least in my standing behind the bench and going ‘whew, that was close.’”

With the margins that thin, the Panthers know they will need to bring their game again in Game 6.

The Rangers, after all, are 1-1 in Sunrise this series.

“I think that’s the foundation of our playing style,” Barkov said.

“We want to play defense first, we want to have tight gaps but it’s all about hard work and we just go on the ice and play as hard as we possible. You know the guy next to you is going to do the same and we just believe in each other.’’

For the most in-depth coverage of the Florida Panthers:

Panthers Lead Best-of-7 Series 3-2

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