Keys To the East: How the Rangers Can Tame The Panthers For Eastern Crown

It's time to hunt again for the New York Rangers. They've won eight playoff games and defied the odds, "upsetting" the Vegas bettors by defeating the Carolina Hurricanes. However, they still need eight more to reach their goal of winning a Stanley Cup. Yet, to reach their first final in a decade, they must beat the East's reigning beasts, the Florida Panthers. This series should be a classic, so let's consider what to expect. 
Florida Panthers v New York Rangers
Florida Panthers v New York Rangers / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Igor Shesterkin, Eetu Luostarinen
Florida Panthers v New York Rangers / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The Prediction:

On paper, the favored Panthers are the stronger team. They've been through the grind after reaching the Stanley Cup finals last year. They have that perfect mix of skill, grit, size, coaching, and goaltending you want in a playoff juggernaut.

Barkov, Reinhart, and Tkachuk bring the physical edge and defensive game you need in the postseason. And when there are breakdowns, Bobrovsky between the pipes is as reliable as they come.

Yet, there's an enigmatic quality about the Rangers that captivates me. Their game is a blend of average even-strength play, exceptional goaltending, effective special teams, and a knack for clutch finishes. This winning combination has been their secret weapon all year, and with each victory, the sense of something extraordinary brewing only grows stronger. 

Take, for instance, game 6 against Carolina, a perfect illustration of the Rangers' potential. Destiny seemed to favor them with that Kreider natural hat trick. Despite the undeniable strength of both teams, I find it hard to dismiss the notion that the Rangers possess a touch of magic. While both teams are likely to secure an away win, I stand by my pre-playoff bracket prediction. My call? Rangers in 7.

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