Why Rangers Or Panthers Can Advance To Stanley Cup Final

Florida Panthers beat reporter David Dwork shares why each team can advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
New York Rangers v Florida Panthers
New York Rangers v Florida Panthers / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages

The New York Rangers and Florida Panthers are set to face off in the Eastern Conference Final tonight. I asked David Dwork of The Hockey News his thoughts ahead of the highly anticipated third round series.

Dwork covered the Panthers last season when the club advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 27 years. From Matthew Tkachuk's multi-overtime goals to Paul Maurice's press conferences, he's had a first-hand account of it all.

Here is how David thinks the series will play out.

Q: How can the Panthers win the ECF?
A: Discipline was a big key in Florida’s second-round win over the Bruins and if the Panthers are
going to defeat the Rangers, it will need to remain true in the conference finals.
Now discipline doesn’t only mean trying not to take bad penalties. It means keeping your cool
in the moments when it’s the most difficult to do so. The Panthers flexed their disciplinary muscles during the Boston series, refusing to get baited into any after-the-whistle extracurricular activities. Then there is Florida’s depth. Panthers Head Coach Paul Maurice will be looking to roll his four lines and dare the Rangers to keep up.
Florida enters the conference finals with a fully healthy roster. As we learned last postseason,
the Panthers continuing to avoid the injury bug will go a long way toward them finishing what
they couldn’t a year ago.

Q: How can the Rangers advance to their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in a decade?
A: Puck possession and the power play. When at their best, New York has proven to play a very sound, structured game. While the Panthers are a very north-south team, the Rangers have plenty of east-west built into their game, which can be a strength during the playoffs when having more options in how you travel through the neutral zone can be the difference in solving a strong defensive trap game.
Then there’s New York’s power play, which has been operating at an over 30% success rate for
much of the postseason. It currently sits at 31.4%. If the Rangers can maintain puck possession through the three zones and continue to capitalize
on their potent power play, it could be a long (or not so long) series for the Panthers.

Q: Who or what will be the X-factor in this series? A: Goaltending. At the end of the day, both of these teams have something that could dwarf all other elements of the series, and that’s a goaltender who can steal a game…and a series.
There is no denying that Igor Shesterkin is one of the absolute best goalies in the world right
now. The 28-year-old is in his prime, and it's showing. Bobrovsky, meanwhile, had an incredible postseason for the Panthers last season, and, while his numbers haven’t been much to write home about, he’s continued to come up with big saves in
big moments for Florida.

The game will be televised on ESPN, the puck is set to drop at 8:00 p.m. (ET). It will also be available on ESPN+, Fubo, and Sling TV.

MSG Network will feature programming before and after the game, beginning with a pre-game show at 7:00 p.m and a post-game show slotted for 10:30 p.m (subject to change).