Rangers set for battle against Panthers in Game 1 of Eastern Conference Final

New York Rangers power rankings
Jan 23, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) celebrates his goal against the Florida Panthers with teammates during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers will host the Florida Panthers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. Both teams closed out their previous series in six games over the Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins respectively.

When Chris Kreider recorded a natural hat trick in the third period to help the Rangers storm back from a 3-1 deficit to a 5-3 victory in Raleigh, it was the 33rd time this season (regular season and playoffs) that they rallied for a win.

Now, the Rangers must face arguably their toughest opponent, literally. Florida led the League this past season in penalty minutes with 1,116, and have added another 171 to date in these playoffs. It’s a challenge Rangers’ captain Jacob Trouba acknowledges, but doesn’t seem to fear.

“We know they’re a physical team,” Trouba said. “I don’t think us as a group are coming into this any different. Physicality is a part of our game. When we are playing our best, we are a physical group. But we’re not going to be overly physical. We want to play our game, and how we’ve found success throughout the year… It’s going to be a fun, fast, physical series on both sides.”

Regarding the speed aspect, New York should be getting a boost with the return of Filip Chytil, who missed 72 games during the season with an upper-body injury and returned for just one game in the playoffs (Game 3 vs Carolina).

“I can’t wait to be out there on the ice and enjoy that atmosphere,” Chytil said. “But most importantly, to give them (Rangers fans) the win tomorrow and start with 1-0.”

Additionally, Blake Wheeler is working his way back from a season-ending leg injury, and may be an option in the Eastern Conference Final. It’s something his former Winnipeg Jets’ head coach Paul Maurice, now with Florida, would love to see.

“I’m hoping he plays, for him,” Maurice said Monday. “He’s a hard-working man. That injury, to come back from it, to be good, he will have done everything he possibly can to get back.”

Here’s today’s game and broadcast info:

New York Rangers vs Florida Panthers (GAME 1)
Date/Time: May 22, 2024 @ 8:00 PM ET
Arena: Madison Square Garden
TV: ESPN
Radio: ESPN 98.7 FM
Series: 0-0

Note: Subject to change, updated for each game

Related: Filip Chytil excited to play in Game 1 of ECF

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

Shesterkin
Quick

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)

GAMEDATETIME/RESULTLOCATIONTV
1May 228 PM ETMSGESPN
2May 248 PM ETMSGESPN
3May 263 PM ETFLABC
4May 288 PM ETFLESPN
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: 8-2, 2.40 GAA, .923 SV%

Notes:

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 22-8 all-time in Game 1s at home, and have won their last four Game 1s going back to the 2022 Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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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