Rangers seek small adjustments ahead of Game 2 fight vs. Panthers

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Florida Panthers at New York Rangers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers will look to even their Eastern Conference Final series against the Florida Panthers in Game 2 on Friday at Madison Square Garden.

After being kept in check for the first time in these playoffs, suffering a 3-0 loss on Wednesday, head coach Peter Laviolette doesn’t believe the Rangers need to make major changes. Speaking on Thursday, Laviolette said he believes the team needs to make a few minor adjustments to turn the tide.

“There’s just things I felt we could’ve done better to push it in our direction,” Laviolette said. “We had a lot of chances to score. We hit the post three times … So there’s opportunities where we could’ve scored that one goal, and it didn’t go. Execution on how we move out of the zone, the details of finishing, just things that you find one goal you push it to overtime. Two goals, and you win it in regulation. Just small things we can do better.”

While the stats show the game was closer than the final score indicated, the Blueshirts struggled getting the puck into Florida’s zone. They also failed to get any traffic in front of Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, which is something they will need to do in order to win this series.

“I think it starts with the forecheck,” veteran Barclay Goodrow explained. “As forwards we can do a better job of getting on the D and creating turnovers. From there, try and get more pucks to the net, making it harder on Bobrovsky. Obviously, he’s a good goalie. If he sees pucks life is easy, and he’ll make most of those saves. So, just making life more difficult on him.”

Another area the Rangers are going to want to focus on is physicality. By no means were they manhandled in Game 1, but the Panthers had a clear edge. One of the Rangers hard-nosed players is rookie Will Cuylle, who led the team in hits during the season with 249, understands the task at hand.

“Throughout the season, when a game doesn’t go our way, we’re ready to go the next game. Especially later in the season, we make the necessary adjustments and the game usually goes our way,” Cuylle affirmed.

At the end of the day, the Rangers will be making adjustments in how they execute. The question remains if they will change the lineup at all. Sitting on their reserve bench is monster-sized rookie Matt Rempe, whose mere presence alone energizes the Garden crowd.

“I’m not questioning the coach right now,” legendary Rangers’ captain Mark Messier stated on the ESPN broadcast about sitting Rempe. “I am saying he does get in on the forecheck, he does ground and pound, he does get the crowd involved and the players do seem to follow that mindset. But right now they’re just playing, in my opinion, a little too careful.”

To date, Laviolette has shown a willingness to insert Rempe in these playoffs, but does not fully trust him. In seven postseason games, he’s registered a goal and averages just 6:19 of ice time, often being stapled to the bench midway through the match. If that’s the case, veteran Blake Wheeler is ready to return from a season-ending leg injury, and his 6-foot-5 frame could add some beef to the lineup.

This is all well and good, but who would Laviolette take out of the lineup? Simply put, he now has too many options, but it’s on him to the deploy a lineup that can win Game 2.

Here’s today’s game and broadcast info:

New York Rangers vs Florida Panthers (GAME 2)
Date/Time: May 24, 2024 @ 8:00 PM ET
Arena: Madison Square Garden
Radio: ESPN 98.7 FM
Series: 1-0 FL

Note: Subject to change, updated for each game

Related: Rangers in unfamiliar territory in these playoffs

New York Rangers projected lineup

NHL: Florida Panthers at New York Rangers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s the expected lineup:

Kreider – Zibanejad – Roslovic
Panarin – Trocheck – Lafreniere
Chytil– Wennberg – Kakko
Cuylle – Goodrow – Vesey

Lindgren – Fox
Miller – Trouba
Gustafsson – Schneider


Note: The Rangers will hold a morning skate (10:30 AM E.T.) at Madison Square Garden. Head coach Peter Laviolette will address the media around that time. Check back here for updates.

New York Rangers vs Florida Panthers (Round 3)

1May 22L, 3-0MSGESPN
5May 308 PM ETMSGESPN (If needed)
6Jun 18 PM ETFLABC (If needed)
7Jun 38 PM ETMSGESPN (If needed)

Rangers vs Panthers schedule

Rangers leading playoff scorers:

Goals – Kreider (7)
Assists – Zibanejad (11)
Points – Trocheck (14), Zibanejad (14)

Rangers playoff goalie stats:

Igor Shesterkin: 8-3, 2.37 GAA, .923 SV%


This is the second time the Rangers have played the Panthers in the playoffs. They won the 1997 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal in five games. Wayne Gretzky led the team in scoring with six points (four goals, two assists), including a memorable natural hat trick in the second period of Game 4. New York was 1-2-0 during the regular-season against Florida, but are 6-1-1 in their last eight at home against them.

The Rangers are just the sixth Presidents’ Trophy winner to reach the Conference Final since 2004.

Matt Rempe became the first Rangers’ player to score a goal in his NHL Playoffs debut since defenseman Matt Gilroy scored in Game 1 of the 2011 Conference Quarterfinals against the Capitals.

Including the regular season and playoffs, when the Rangers score four or more goals in a game, they are 40-0-1.

New York tied a franchise record set in 1994 winning seven straight games to open the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Rangers are 16-13 all-time in Game 2s at home.

Upcoming Milestones

  • The next Rangers playoff shutout will be the first since Henrik Lundqvist beat the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 on 4/12/17 (R1, G1).

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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