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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Predicting a Winner between Panthers and Rangers Is Tough



Panthers rangers

It is difficult to predict who will win the Eastern Conference final between the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers.

These two teams are about as similar and talented as it gets. They can play any type of game—roughhouse, speed, finesse—you name it.

Each has the ingredients for a serious Stanley Cup contender: Great goaltending, explosive scorers, tough defenders — and those mean guys essential for a Cup run.

Each team has an experienced old-line coach who knows which buttons to press.

New York’s Peter Laviolette has a Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006, and has been to the Finals with Nashville and Philadelphia.

Paul Maurice is looking for his first Cup win.

He made trips to the Final with Carolina and Florida.

Sergei Bobrovsky and Igor Shesterkin had great seasons.

Bobrovsky is a Vezina candidate and Shesterkin came to life in the second half and was critical to the Rangers capturing the President’s Trophy.

Let’s make a few comparisons:

The Panthers were far stingier in relinquishing goals, allowing only 198 compared to 226 by the Rangers.

The Rangers outscored Florida 278-265. Not much over an 82-game season.

Both teams had great special teams during the regular season. Although the Rangers fared better on the power play and the penalty kill, the difference was minor.

During the playoffs to date, however, the Rangers have had the more successful power play.

The Panthers must stay out of the box.

Florida was the most penalized team in the league during the regular season, recording 343 minutes in the box more than the Rangers.

This figure is slightly skewed because of Florida’s 23 misconducts versus five for the Rangers.

Each team has top offensive talent.

Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanajed, Chris Kreider and our old friend Vincent Trocheck lead the way for New York.

Panarin had a career year with 49 goals, and Alexis Lafreniere had a surprising season with 28 goals.

Sam Reinhart, Matthew Tkachuk, Sasha Barkov, and Carter Verhaeghe are the top snipers for Florida.

Both teams have third—and fourth-line depth.

New York has an x-factor in Matt Rempe, who adds toughness when he is in the lineup.

Florida has experience and grit, with players like Nick Cousins and Ryan Lomberg rotating in.

Kyle Okposo and Steven Lorentz played well when they were in the lineup.

The Rangers’ fourth-line combination of Jimmy Vesey, Barclay Goodrow, and Johnny Brodzinski produced 23 regular-season goals.

Florida’s bottom line of Kevin Stenlund, Cousins, and Lomberg contributed an identical number.

The Rangers bottom-six may change with the possible return of Blake Wheeler and Filip Chytil.

On defense, the Rangers have Adam Fox, who is probably the best two-way defenseman in the league.

There are rumors that he is playing hurt.

In Jacob Trouba, they have an old pro who hits hard and makes sure opponents keep their heads up.

Ryan Lindgren is the type of warrior needed in a Cup run.

Florida’s defensive renaissance this season was led by the unheralded Gus Forsling, who led the NHL in plus/minus.

Brandon Montour has been hot offensively, and Aaron Ekblad has has been quietly playing to his capability.

Oliver Ekman-Larson and Dmitry Kulikov both had a rebirth in Florida, while Niko Mikkola provides solid and physical defense.

Regardless of the outcome, Florida hockey, in general, will be a winner.

Madison Square Garden is the biggest sporting arena in the world.

New York is also the media capital of the world.

Television ratings should soar, giving massive visibility to superstars like Tkachuk and Barkov.

Sit back and enjoy this one.

I’m not predicting a winner.

My only prediction is that this will be a long hard-fought series.

I would not be surprised if we go to the third period of Game 7, things still up in the air.

Let’s just hope the winning goal is a good one.

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

  • When: Wednesday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Madison Square Garden, New York
  • National TV: ESPN
  • Streaming: ESPN+/Hulu
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Series Schedule — Game 1: Panthers at Rangers, Wednesday, 8 (ESPN); Game 2: Panthers at Rangers, Friday 8 (ESPN); Game 3: Rangers at Panthers, Sunday May 26, 3 (ABC); Game 4: Rangers at Panthers, Tuesday May 28, 8 (ESPN): Game 5*: Panthers at Rangers, Thursday May 30, 8 (ESPN); Game 6*: Rangers at Panthers, Saturday June 1, 8 (ABC); Game 7*: Panthers at Rangers, Monday June 3, 8 (ESPN). (*) — If Necessary.
  • Second Round, Florida d. Boston 4-2 — Game 1: Boston 5, @Florida 1; Game 2: @Florida 6, Boston 1; Game 3: Florida 6, @Boston 2; Game 4: Florida 3, @Boston 2; Game 5: Boston 2, @Florida 1; Game 6: Florida 2, @Boston 1.
  • How They Got Here: Florida d. Tampa Bay 4-1, Boston 4-2; Rangers d. Washington 4-0, Carolina 4-2.
  • Last Season vs. Rangers — Regular Season: Rangers won 3-0
  • This Season (Panthers Won 2-1) — At Florida: Panthers 4 Rangers 3 (Dec. 29). At MSG: Panthers 4, Rangers 2 (March 4); Rangers 4, Panthers 3 OT (March 23).
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Rangers lead 61-34-8, 6 ties
  • Postseason History: Rangers Lead 1-0 (1997 1st)

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