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Panthers, Rangers Collide With Spot in Stanley Cup Final at Stake

The Eastern Conference Finals Begin at Madison Square Garden

The two division champions needed six games but both the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers are through to the Eastern Conference finals.

The teams will meet in the playoffs for just the second time, with the Rangers winning in five games in the first round back in 1997. The NHL odds favor the Panthers are -150 to win the series with the Rangers priced at +130 to win the series.

Panthers, Rangers Collide With Spot in Stanley Cup Final at Stake
Artemi Panarin #10 of the New York Rangers - Grant Halverson/Getty Images/AFP

After the Rangers won all three games against the Panthers a season ago, Florida took two of the three meetings this season. Two of the three games were decided by one goal.

The NHL betting lines have Game 1 on Wednesday approaching Pick’em status with the Panthers at -115 to win the game outright and the Rangers with -105 odds. Those who believe in the Panthers might consider the +240 odds to cover at -1½ on the puck line in the series opener.

The series begins with the first two games at Madison Square Garden.

 

According to the NHL playoff odds, the Panthers (+210) have the second shortest odds to win the Stanley Cup. The Rangers are third at +300 in the championship odds.

 

How the Rangers Got Here

New York made things interesting by dropping Games 4 and 5 against the Carolina Hurricanes after taking the first three games in the best-of-seven game series.

Chris Kreider joined Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier as the only New York Rangers with three goals in a postseason period when the veteran winger scored three times in a row in the third period to erase a 3-1 lead by the Hurricanes in the series clincher.

Four of the six games between the Rangers and the Hurricanes were decided by one goal.

It was a different story in the first round with the Rangers outscoring the Washington Capitals 15-7 while sweeping their Metropolitan Division rivals in four games.

 

How the Panthers Got Here

Florida got a late goal fromodds to win the Stanley Cup to edge the Bruins 2-1 in Game 6 and deny Boston the chance to send the series back to Florida for a decisive Game 7. It was the second season in a row that the Panthers eliminated the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Bruins rolled to a 5-1 win in the first game of the series but scored two goals or less in each of the final five games in the series.

Florida took out the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games in the opening round, with 24 goals being scored in the final three games of the series.

 

Tkachuk, Kreider Players to Watch

Matthew Tkachuk and Aleksander Barkov each had 13 points in the 10 games in the postseason whils Carter Verhaeghe led the way with six goals.

Defensemen Brandon Montour and Gustav Forsling led the Panthers in time on ice. Sergei Bobrovsky is 8-3 with a 2.37 goals-against average to go with a .902 save percentage.

For the Rangers, Chris Kreider has scored seven goals, Vincent Trocheck has six goals and eight assists while Mika Zibanejad has three goals and 11 assists. Kreider offers pretty good value at +180 to score a goal in the series opener.

Despite a quiet postseason offensively, defenseman Adam Fox leads the Rangers skaters in time on ice.

Igor Shesterkin is 8-2 with a 2.40 goals-against average and a save percentage of .923. He is among the favorites listed by the Vegas NHL odds to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP.

 

A Look at the Panthers-Rangers Series

If not for an empty-net goal by Florida’s Anton Lundell in the final minute in the second of the three meetings during the regular season, each of the three matchups during the regular season would have been decided by one goal.

Two of the three meetings took place in March so there will be some recent scouting that could benefit both teams.

The Rangers outshot the Panthers 99-93 in the three games. The Rangers are 3-for-9 on the power play against Florida this season with the Panthers 2-for-8.

Sam Reinhart scored four of Florida’s 11 goals in the three games against the Rangers. He was tied with Barkov and Verhaeghe for the team lead with five points while defenseman Brandon Montour was a +3. Bobrovsky was 2-0-1 with a 2.60 goals-against average with a save percentage of .919 against New York.

Artemi Panarin led the Rangers with three goals and he was tied with Vincent Trocheck for the team lead with four points vs. the Panthers.

Shesterkin was between the pipes in two of the three games. He had a 2.91 GAA and a save percentage of .898.

 

Numbers to Consider

The Rangers are 47-20-2 as a favorite this season compared to a 13-7-2 mark as the underdog.

The Panthers are 53-23-2 as the betting favorite but just 5-9-4 as the underdog.

New York is 27-19 against the puck line on the road with 25 of those games landing over the total.

Florida has covered in 29 of 46 road games but just 17 of those contests went over the Las Vegas NHL odds total.

Five of the last seven games for the Rangers went over the total while six of the last nine games for the Panthers finished over the total.

New York has won nine of its last 11 road games.

 

 

Questions of the Day

When was the last time the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers played in the Stanley Cup Final?


The Florida Panthers lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games in the 2023 Stanley Cup Final. They have won just one game in two trips to the Stanley Cup Finals. The last Stanley Cup Final appearance for the Rangers came in 2014 when they lost to Los Angeles in six games. Their most recent Stanley Cup title came in 1994.

Who are the active playoff scoring leaders for the Panthers and Rangers franchises?


Aleksander Barkov has a franchise-record 50 career playoff points for the Florida Panthers while Carter Verhaeghe has a Panthers-record 21 goals. Chris Kreider’s 47 playoff games are the most for a New York Rangers player and his 74 points trail only Brian Leetch and Mark Messier.

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