Rangers stars must be better against Panthers in crucial Game 5

NHL: Florida Panthers at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers basically survived their trip to Sunrise, Florida earning a split in Game’s 3 and 4 where they were decidedly outplayed by the Panthers. With this best-of-7 Eastern Conference Final even at 2-2, the scene shifts to Madison Square Garden on Thursday for a critical Game 5.

Despite being dominated most of the time in Florida, each contest was decided in overtime. Alex Wennberg was able to salvage Game 3 for New York, but an awful turnover by Mika Zibanejad in Game 4 set the stage for Sam Reinhart’s power-play goal to knot the series up.

“I should have probably just made a different play,” Zibanejad said Tuesday. “I can’t change it now. That’s sports. I can just come back and try to make another decision next time and hope it goes my way.”

Actually, nothing has been going his way lately. Prior to the start of this series, Zibanejad had 14 points in 10 playoff games, but he’s been shutout through four games. As goes Mika, so goes his best bud Chris Kreider, who has also been blanked by the Panthers.

“They’re working,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette defended the duo. “We’re spending a little bit too much time playing defense, and so we’re not able to move and generate the way that we want to out there. [The Florida Panthers] come at you hard, they dump a lot of pucks, they forecheck hard, and so you’re not spending time in the right zone. [Zibanejad and Kreider] want to get into the offensive zone where they can make an impact in the game. That’s something I thought we did a much better job at home of controlling the play.”

The Rangers could also use a little more from Artemi Panarin, who led the team in regular-season scoring with 120 points. To date, he’s managed 14 points in 14 postseason games, but only has three assists versus Florida. Same can be said for defenseman Adam Fox, who has been a shadow of himself with just seven assists in 14 playoff games. It’s obvious that he’s being hampered by a lingering undisclosed injury aggravated after another knee-on-knee collision sustained in Game 4 of the first round against the Washington Capitals.

That being said, all teams are playing banged up to a degree at this time of year. However, if the Rangers hope to reach the Stanley Cup Final, they can’t rely solely on Igor Shesterkin to shutout the Panthers twice in what is now a best-of-3 affair.

It’s time for the stars to show up.

Here’s today’s game and broadcast info:

New York Rangers vs Florida Panthers (GAME 5)
Date/Time: May 30, 2024 @ 8:00 PM ET
Arena: Madison Square Garden
TV: ESPN
Radio: ESPN 98.7 FM
Series: 2-2

Note: Subject to change, updated for each game

Related: 3 reasons for optimism against Panthers

New York Rangers projected lineup

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

Here’s the expected lineup:

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

Lindgren – Fox
Miller – Trouba
Gustafsson – Schneider

Shesterkin
Quick

Note: The Rangers will hold a morning skate at 10:30 A.M. ET. 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 22L, 3-0MSGESPN
2May 24W, 2-1 (OT)MSGESPN
3May 26W, 5-4 (OT)FLABC
4May 28L, 3-2 (OT)FLESPN
5May 308 PM ETMSGESPN
6Jun 18 PM ETFLABC
7Jun 38 PM ETMSGESPN (If needed)

Rangers vs Panthers schedule

Rangers leading playoff scorers:

Goals – Trocheck (8)
Assists – Trocheck (11), Zibanejad (11)
Points – Trocheck (19)

Rangers playoff goalie stats:

Igor Shesterkin: 10-4, 2.37 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 41-0-1.

Including the regular season and playoffs, the Rangers have 34 comeback wins setting an NHL single-season record.

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

The Rangers have four overtime wins in the playoffs, tying the franchise record set by the 2014-15 squad.

The Rangers are 11-12 all-time in Game 5s at MSG.

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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