What second-round stats say about Rangers vs Panthers

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

The New York Rangers and Florida Panthers will open their Eastern Conference Final matchup on Wednesday. Both teams made quick work of their opening series with the Rangers sweeping the Washington Capitals (91 points) in four games, and the Panthers dispatching of the Tampa Bay Lightning (98 points) in five.

In the second round, both teams faced a much better opponent, but were still able to advance in six games. The Blueshirts ousted the Carolina Hurricanes (111 points) and the Panthers eliminated the Boston Bruins (109 points).

During the regular season, these teams were among the League’s best with the Rangers finishing first overall at 114 points, and the Panthers winning the Atlantic Division with 110 points. It’s certainly going to be a battle to see who will represent the East in the Stanley Cup Final.

“A very, very fast talented team,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said Saturday. “They’re dynamic off the rush. They’ve got all the spots. They’re the best team in the League with the goaltending, the back end big and strong– the forwards are very skilled.”

So, who has the edge coming into this series? One way to look at it is to break down individual performances from Round 2 without losing sight of all postseason stats to date. Let’s dive in.

Related: Rangers need to beef up against Panthers

Rangers vs Panthers Round 2 Stats

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

When it comes to key team stats from Round 2, 11 specific categories were reviewed and the Panthers had an edge in seven of them. Broadening the scope to all postseason stats, that number went down to six.

Stats via NHL.com

When examining these numbers, a lot has to do with the opponent. For the Rangers, they faced a speedy, aggressive Hurricanes squad that are high-volume shooters which negatively impacts shots against numbers. Meanwhile, the Bruins rely on hard-nosed defensive play, and lack the firepower other teams have, shooting for quality over quantity.

That being said, of all the teams remaining in playoffs, the Rangers have given up the most shots per game. It’s something they’ll need to tighten up on if they want to make it a little easier on themselves.

Another area that’s been an issue for the Rangers, and likely why they continue to be an underdog against the top teams in the postseason is 5v5 scoring. However, the disparity in the playoffs to date between these teams is nominal with Florida having the edge. Oddly enough, the Rangers scored more regular-season 5v5 goals than the Panthers (167 to 156).

One area that the Rangers appear to have the upper hand is in goal, with Igor Shesterkin sporting a .928 5v5 save percentage to Sergei Bobrovsky’s .916 average. At all even-strength situations (4v4), Shesterkin is at .922 and Bobrovsky dips to .907. Now for the real impressive number, when killing a penalty, Shesterkin is at an amazing .902 and Bobrovsky drops to an .857 mark.

Special teams is where the Rangers have cemented themselves as the most dangerous team in the postseason. This could be a real problem for the Panthers, who were the most penalized team during the regular season with 1,116 minutes. They are second most penalized team in the playoffs at 171 minutes, and will likely surpass the now eliminated Bruins (191).

If Florida is going to continue to play it nasty, the Rangers power play could put a hurting on them operating at 31.4% in these playoffs.

“Watching their games throughout the playoffs, they have an unbelievable goaltender like us,” Florida forward Matthew Tkachuck said on TNT Friday. “A very well rounded defense like us. And they have some guys up front that can put the puck in the net. I would say their power play is their biggest strength from what I’ve seen so far. I feel like (playing them) will be a combination of Tampa and Boston, but with more of that high-end skill, they’re more like Tampa.”

New York is averaging 1.10 power-play goals per game to date, which ranks second to the Edmonton Oilers 1.27. It’s something Maurice is already warning his team about before the series starts on Wednesday.

“They get up the ice on it,” Maurice noted of the Rangers’ potent power play. “They’re aggressive with it. The best part of our penalty killing in the Tampa series… we just didn’t go to the box as much, and we’ve just got to stay out of it.”

Finally, the Rangers are a serious threat shorthanded as they lead the all teams in the postseason with four shorthanded goals. In contrast, the other 15 teams in the playoffs have combined for seven. It is noteworthy to point out that both the Panthers and Dallas Stars have two each, although they’ve given up one as well.

“The players in that room delivered against a really good hockey team,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said after eliminating Carolina. “We were able to score goals and move on to the Conference Final.”

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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