NHL in the Book: Previewing the Rangers-Panthers Eastern Conference Final

Rangers Hurricanes Game 4
New York Rangers defenseman Erik Gustafsson (56), left wing Artemi Panarin, center Vincent Trocheck (16) and left wing Alexis Lafrenière (13) celebrate after scoring the winning goal in the overtime period in Game 3 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series Thursday, May 9, 2024, in Raleigh, N.C. Carolina Hurricanes left wing Jordan Martinook skates away at left. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)

For the second time in three seasons, the New York Rangers have found themselves four wins away from a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. Only the Florida Panthers stand in the way of the Blueshirts and their first meeting with Lord Stanley since 2014.

After a stunning comeback to prevent a Game 7 against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Rangers enter this series with all of the momentum in the world as they have looked like one of the strongest teams in the NHL in these playoffs. That being said, the sportsbook sees this series going in a different direction; let’s take a look at the Stanley Cup Eastern Conference Finals through the eyes of the book.

Odds to win

Florida Panthers: -150
New York Rangers: +130

The Florida Panthers enter the series as a slight favorite over the Blueshirts after staving off a Boston Bruins comeback to win their series in six games. With both teams finishing at the top of their respective divisions in the regular season, they enter this series battle-tested and playing their best hockey of the season. 

The Panthers and Rangers enter this series with goalies who have stood on their heads in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Igor Shesterkin Rangers
Igor Shesterkin (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

For the Blueshirts, it has been Igor Shesterkin who has led them in net. Holding opponents to a 2.40 GAA, Shesterkin has also powered the best penalty kill in the Eastern Conference, with a remarkable 89.5% kill rate. However, in the Rangers’ most recent series, the net-minder had lapsed at times with an explosive Carolina Hurricanes offense, allowing more than three goals a game on average. 

Shesterkin will have his work cut out for him again in this series against the Panthers. With an electrifying offense powered by getting pucks on the net, both Florida and Carolina have been the two top teams in terms of shots per game in the playoffs. It will fall on the Rangers’ defense to get in the way of pucks and minimize the work Shesterkin will face in net.

The Panthers are led by Sergei Bobrovsky in net, allowing a slightly better 2.37 GAA compared to Shesterkin. While Bobrovsky did not have to face an offensive onslaught on par with the Hurricanes, he has once again propelled his team into a deep run for Lord Stanley. Having been on this stage just last year and excelling, allowing an average of 1.5 GAA in a four-game sweep, it’s no mystery why the Panthers have been given a slight edge in the series. 

Total Games

6 Games: +200
7 Games: +210
5 Games: +275
4 Games: +600

As one can tell from the Sportsbook, the oddsmakers are expecting this series to be a back-and-forth battle. With two similar styles of play, this series will be won in the trenches by the most narrow of margins. The net-minders on each side will have the weight of the world on their shoulders and both have proven to show up when the lights shine the brightest.

Whoever comes out of this series will be battle-tested and have a hard-earned path to a meeting with the Stanley Cup.