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New York Rangers and Florida Panthers Third Round Series Review

The Florida Panthers are returning to their second straight Stanley Cup Final after defeating the New York Rangers in six games. As advertised, the series between these two teams did not disappoint. Both teams had the same goal in mind. In the end, it is the pride of Sunrise, Florida returning to the fourth and final round of the 2024 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. This marks the fifth consecutive season the NHL’s Eastern Conference Finals representative is from the State of Florida.

Seeing New York take two consecutive wins in overtime, Florida flipped a switch. The turning point against the Rangers seemed to be the Panthers OT victory in Game 4. Once Sam Reinhart sealed the deal, this was a completely different series. The Panthers stuck to their guns, out-forechecking New York while also smothering their top stars. Both Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin, perhaps like Eminem, did their best impressions of Harry Houdini. It is safe to say that the playoffs are no time for a disappearing act.

Florida will now sit back for just a second and wait for their final opponent of the season. With the Edmonton Oilers leading 3-2, Game 6 between the Dallas Stars and the Oilers is set for 6 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time (MDT) (8 p.m. EDT) tonight. Both storylines are ideal for the average hockey fan. Yet one thing differs from last season: The Florida Panthers are a more skilled hockey team than a year ago.

Florida’s Top Six Came to Play in the Eastern Conference Finals vs New York

The Conference Finals are no time for your superstars to shy away. Sure, it is a great feeling to get depth scoring from time to time. As a fan, you love seeing players in the bottom six become heroes right before your eyes. At the same time, you want the guys who got you here to continue their form from the regular season.

Every single Panther in the top six tallied at least one goal in the third round playoff series. Aleksander Barkov was the best player in the series, hands down. Scoring aside, is a complete hockey player that would be wanted by the other 31 general managers in the NHL. As the reigning, defending, undisputed Selke Trophy winner, Florida’s captain proves every night why he’s the best defensive forward since Patrice Bergeron. On the other hand, New York’s top six were not in synch, leaving a great amount of responsibility with their depth.

It took a few games for Sam Reinhart to get going, but was Game 3 his breakout party. Since scoring his brace of power play goals, Reinhart showcased his scoring abilities and proved why his 57 regular season goals were no fluke. Finally, in an all-time netminder battle, Sergei Bobrovsky remained as sharp as possible. Although both goaltenders might have bent a few times this series, the man called “Bob” did not break.

Same Old Story for the Blueshirts

For a split second, we, Panthers included, all thought that the Rangers had more left in them after Panarin’s third period goal in Game 6. Maybe, just maybe New York was going to showcase their “No Quit In New York” mentality. However, the clock struck midnight on the miraculous run by Peter Laviolette‘s squad as ‘The Blueshirts’ season is now over.

If this series proved one thing, it is that Rangers fans are lucky to have a goaltender like Igor Shesterkin in the lineup whenever it’s his net. It is the closest comparison to Henrik Lundqvist. Kids now might not remember the joy it was to see Hank take the crease. However, Igor is the closest thing to it. The cheers, the jaw-dropping saves, the swagger, all of it was, and still is, infectious. A 10-6 record in the postseason is impressive, especially when your team is now knocked out. When the time comes for Igor’s extension, back the Brinks truck up.

After Beating the Rangers, the Panthers Are Playing the Waiting Game

With Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals taking place tonight, Florida’s final test of the season has yet to be determined. Standing in one corner are the champs of the Central Division in the Dallas Stars. An early favourite to win the Stanley Cup, the Stars have their backs against the wall, down 3-2 in enemy territory. With a stellar netminder in Jake Oettinger, Dallas is far from out of this. Wyatt Johnston is slowly turning himself into a household name, and Logan Stankoven is not too far behind.

In the other corner stands the offensive powerhouse known to all as the Edmonton Oilers. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl will look for each of their first Stanley Cup final appearance to solidify their legacies. With a win tonight, their chances at a championship become more likely. No matter who comes out of the West, Florida, although ready, will have their hands full.

Main photo credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports


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