Verhaeghe_Shesterkin identifies key gameday matchups and players to watch throughout the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs.


Note: Betting lines provided by Betway (U.S., Ontario)


Game 1: Florida Panthers at New York Rangers (8 p.m. ET; ESPN+, ESPN, SN, TVAS, CBC)

3-way moneyline:
FLA regulation win: +140
Tied after regulation: +300
NYR regulation win: +150

The Rangers are 8-2 this postseason, with six of their victories coming in regulation, and have a 4-1 record at home. But the Panthers are 4-1 on the road in the playoffs, with all four victories coming in regulation and two of them coming by multiple goals. This is Florida’s second consecutive trip to the Eastern Conference Final; they swept the Carolina Hurricanes last postseason, with two of those wins coming in overtime on goals by forward Matthew Tkachuk.

The Panthers were 2-0-1 against the Rangers during the regular season, including a 4-2 win at Madison Square Garden on March 4. Florida is the best remaining team in terms of shot attempts percentage (53.3 percent) during the playoffs, while New York ranks last of the four conference finalists in that category (46.3 percent). The Panthers are 5-1 when scoring first this postseason, but the Rangers are 4-1 when trailing first.

New York’s Igor Shesterkin leads remaining playoff goalies in save percentage (.923). Rangers forward Chris Kreider led the NHL with five goals in the second round after his series-clinching hat trick against the Hurricanes in Game 6. New York center Vincent Trocheck, who faces his former team, was tied with frequent linemate Artemi Panarin for the most points on the Rangers (four each in three games) in the regular-season series.

Five Panthers players averaged more than 1.00 points per game against the Rangers during the regular season: forwards Aleksander Barkov (five assists in two games), Sam Reinhart (four goals, one assist in three games), Carter Verhaeghe (two goals, three assists in three games), Tkachuk (one goal, three assists in three games) and defenseman Gustav Forsling (three assists in two games).


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