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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Rangers at Panthers, Game 4: Florida Making Lineup Changes

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Pat Maroon of the Bruins battles Kyle Okposo in front of Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky during Game 5 on May 14 in Sunrise. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

FORT LAUDERDALE — The Florida Panthers are making a change to their fourth line looking to add a bit more experience to the mix against the New York Rangers for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final.

Kyle Okposo and Steven Lorentz both worked with Kevin Stenlund on the fourth line during morning skate Tuesday in place of Nick Cousins and Ryan Lomberg.

Coach Paul Maurice said he could change one or both wings on that line; Okposo appears to be the certain change.

“It’s not as drastic of a change as you may think,” Maurice said. “When we make a change like that, some of it might be health, some of it is that it’s that they look different, right?

“There is a different kind of offensive zone thing that both guys bring, so it’s not the tipping point and it’s not the thing that will put your team over the edge. But sometimes you put new players in and then the energy and the excitement when they get fired up is a good boost.”

Both Lorentz and Okposo spent a lot of time watching games from the press box and putting in extra time during scratch skates before finally getting their chance in Game 2 of the first round against Tampa Bay following Lomberg getting sick.

They provided a spark of speed, heavy forechecking and skill and stuck until Maurice opted to go with the two gritty character guys in the series-clinching Game 6 of Round 2.

And they’re ready to go this time around, too.

“I’m not worried about legs or anything and not worrying too much,” Okposo said.

“I’m just worried about going up there and playing and entering a series where we’re down 2-1 and it’s a good opponent over there, a good team, but I’m just going to play my game and do whatever I can to help the team.”

The long-time New York Islander has played a lot of big games against the Rangers in the first eight years of his career, but this one is different.

He does not need the manufactured energy of his old friends on the Island cheering him on — it’s the Eastern Conference final.

“There’s just an excitement,” Okposo said. “There’s four teams left, there’s one game a night and you know that everybody’s watching. Not that that adds anything, but you’re the only game on and there’s seven more wins to try and get the ultimate prize. But you have to focus on the next game because that’s the most important one always.”

— The starting goalies should come as no surprise to anyone: Igor Shesterkin goes for the Rangers; Sergei Bobrovsky starts for Florida.

— Maurice appears to be sticking with the line changes he made in the third period of Game 3; Carter Verhaeghe moves up to the top line, Evan Rodrigues to the second, and Vladimir Tarasenko goes to the right side of the third.

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
FLORIDA PANTHERS (ATL1) V. NEW YORK RANGERS (MET1)
Rangers Lead Best-of-7 Series 2-1
GAME 4

PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS (1-2) LINES

23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 13 Sam Reinhart

17 Evan Rodrigues // 9 Sam Bennett // 19 Matthew Tkachuk

23 Eetu Luostarinen // 15 Anton Lundell // 10 Vladimir Tarasenko

18 Steven Lorentz // 82 Kevin Stenlund // 8 Kyle Okposo

42 Gus Forsling // 5 Aaron Ekblad

77 Niko Mikkola //  62 Brandon Montour

91 Oliver Ekman-Larsson // 7 Dmitry Kulikov

72 Sergei Bobrovsky

41 Anthony Stolarz

Scratched: Nick Cousins, Ryan Lomberg, Tobias Bjornfot, Uvis Balinskis, Josh Mahura, Jonah Gadjovich, Spencer Knight, Rasmus Asplund, Mike Benning, Magnus Hellberg, Matt Kiersted, Will Lockwood, Mackie Samoskevich, Justin Sourdif, Patrick Giles

PROJECTED NEW YORK RANGERS (2-1) LINES

20 Chris Kreider // 93 Mika Zibanejad // 72 Filip Chytil

10 Artemi Panarin // 16 Vincent Trocheck // 13 Alexis Lafreniere

96 Jack Roslovic // 91 Alex Wennberg // 24 Kaapo Kakko

50 Will Cuylle // 21 Barclay Goodrow // 73 Matt Rempe

55 Ryan Lindgren // 23 Adam Fox

79 K’Andre Miller // 8 Jacob Trouba

56 Erik Gustafsson // 4 Braden Schneider

31 Igor Shesterkin

30 Jonathan Quick

Scratched: Zac Jones, Chad Ruhwedel, Jonny Brodzinski, Adam Edstrom, Blake Wheeler, Alex Belzile, Brett Berard, Anton Blidh, Ben Harpur, Dylan Garand, Jake Leschyshyn, Connor Mackey, Victor Mancini, Brennan Othmann, Tyler Pitlick, Matthew Robertson, Brandon Scanlin, Adam Sykora

Injured: Jimmy Vesey (shoulder)

New York Rangers Lines Courtesy NHL.Com

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