Rangers have more lineup questions ahead of Game 3 in Florida

NHL: New York Rangers at Florida Panthers
Jim Rassol-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The scene for the Eastern Conference Final between the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers shifts to Sunrise, Florida. A Sunday afternoon tilt should be an exciting affair as the series is even at one game apiece.

After a lackluster start where the Rangers were blanked 3-0 in Game 1, Barclay Goodrow played overtime hero for a 2-1 win in Game 2 to even the series on Friday night. Rangers coach Peter Laviolette made some significant lineup adjustments which included the reinsertion of monster-sized rookie Matt Rempe and scratching Kaapo Kakko.

Almost immediately, the tone of the contest had a different feel as Rempe delivered nine big hits in 10:01 of ice time to counter Florida’s physical play. The 21-year-old forward, who normally does not play beyond the second period, was forced into more action due to Jimmy Vesey leaving the game with an upper-body injury after a hard hit by Ryan Lomberg.

“I remember ‘Lavy’ calling my name with two minutes left,” Rempe smiled postgame. “I was like, ‘Oh my God! Let’s go! Jiminy Crickets, let’s go!’ I was just thrown out there and tried to buzz around… And then in overtime, I got a little O-zone shift and was pretty excited about that. It was such a blast.”

Heading into Game 3, Rempe’s spot in the lineup appears solidified, but who comes in for Vesey after he was labeled week to week on Saturday? One option is to put Kakko back in, despite his struggles with just two points (one goal, one assist) in 11 postseason games. Another is to play it safe, and insert reliable veteran Jonny Brodzinski, even though he has no points in two playoff contests.

Of course, Laviolette could go for a bigger and more emotional move by inserting veteran Blake Wheeler, who has battled to come back from a season-ending leg injury sustained in February. At 6-foot-5, Wheeler would give the Rangers a formidable and physical fourth line against a heavy Panthers team.

“I’m hoping he plays, for him,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said before the series. “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.”

Regardless of which way Laviolette goes with his lineup, the fact still stands that the Rangers must continue to outwork the Panthers as they did in Game 2 to grab their first series lead.

Here’s today’s game and broadcast info:

New York Rangers vs Florida Panthers (GAME 3)
Date/Time: May 26, 2024 @ 3:00 PM ET
Arena: Amerant Bank Arena
TV: ABC
Radio: ESPN 98.7 FM
Series: 1-1

Note: Subject to change, updated for each game

Related: Matt Rempe makes huge impact for Rangers in Game 2

New York Rangers projected lineup

NHL: New York Rangers at Florida Panthers
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s the expected lineup:

Kreider – Zibanejad – Chytil
Panarin – Trocheck – Lafreniere
Cuylle– Wennberg – Roslovic
Wheeler – Goodrow – Rempe

Lindgren – Fox
Miller – Trouba
Gustafsson – Schneider

Shesterkin
Quick

Note: Head coach Peter Laviolette will address the media at 12:40 P.M. ET. Check back here for updates.

New York Rangers vs Florida Panthers (Round 3)

GAMEDATETIME/RESULTLOCATIONTV
1May 22L, 3-0MSGESPN
2May 24W, 2-1 (OT)MSGESPN
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), Trocheck (7)
Assists – Zibanejad (11)
Points – Trocheck (16)

Rangers playoff goalie stats:

Igor Shesterkin: 9-3, 2.22 GAA, .926 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.

In day games (regular season and playoffs), the Rangers are 12-1. New York beat the Washington Capitals in Game 1 (3:00 PM), and the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 (4:00 PM).

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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