Eastern Conference Final Betting Preview: Rangers vs. Panthers Odds

Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Florida Panthers carries the puck against the New York Rangers during the third period at Madison Square Garden on March 04, 2024 in New York City.

The Presidents’ Trophy-winning New York Rangers will meet the Atlantic Division winner, the Florida Panthers, in the Eastern Conference Final, to decide who will play for the Stanley Cup. This article breaks down the odds and trends that make this matchup interesting, from a betting perspective.

Handicapping the Rangers (63-29 SU, 49-43 ATS, 50-39 O/U)

New York won the Presidents’ Trophy with a team record of 114 points, needing just 10 games to reach the Eastern Conference Final. The Rangers swept the Washington Capitals in the first round and won in six games against the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round. New York rallied from a 3-1 deficit in Game 6 to win 5-3, thanks to a natural hat trick from Chris Kreider. However, Igor Shesterkin is the main reason that New York has made it this far.

New York Rangers Stanley Cup Winner


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Shesterkin has arguably been the best goalie in the playoffs, with an 8-2 record and a .922 save percentage. According to the hockey stats website Evolving Hockey, the Rangers’ goalie has saved his team approximately nine goals above expected in 10 starts. In other words, the 28-year-old has allowed almost one fewer goal per game than an average goaltender would have, given the same shot attempts. Carolina directed 37.2 shots toward Shesterkin (per game) in the series.

Special teams have also been a driving force behind the Rangers’ playoff run. New York is 31.4 percent on the power play and 89.5 on the penalty kill with four short-handed goals. These numbers aren’t sustainable in the long term, though, so the Rangers’ best shooters will also have to get it done during 5-on-5 play. Florida’s special teams are strong, and so is its goaltending, but New York did manage to score more 5-on-5 goals than the Panthers did in the regular season.

With stars like Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, and Alexis Lafrenière, New York can match Florida in terms of scoring ability. And, if Shesterkin is at his best, the Rangers can match the Panthers defensively, too.

Handicapping the Panthers (60-33 SU, 45-48 ATS, 36-54 O/U)

Florida has reached the Eastern Conference Final for the second year in a row. The Panthers needed 11 games to get to this point, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games and the Boston Bruins in six games. The Panthers swept the Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final last year before losing to the Vegas Golden Knights in five games in the Stanley Cup Final.

Florida Panthers Stanley Cup Winner


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However, while Florida rode the wave of “Playoff Bob” last season, this season, they’re a more complete team. According to Evolving Hockey, the Panthers ranked third in 5-on-5 goal share, second in shot attempt percentage, and fifth in expected goals percentage during the regular season. Florida also ranked among the top-10 teams on special teams, and they’ve been even better in the playoffs, particularly on the penalty kill, where they’ve been successful 86.1 percent of the time.

While Florida managed to hold Boston to just one powerplay goal on 16 opportunities in the second round, it’s not going to be as easy to keep the Rangers’ power play off the board. Carolina was the best penalty-killing team during the regular season with an 86.43 percent success rate, but they only managed to successfully kill 73.7 percent of the Rangers’ power play opportunities in round two.

Also, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will have to be as good as Igor Shesterkin, if not better, for the Panthers to make it past this stage of the NHL playoffs. Bobrovsky performed as well as Shesterkin did in the regular season, but the latter has been on another level in the playoffs, which means Bobrovsky must raise his game from where it was in round two versus the Bruins.

Matthew Tkachuk could be better than he was in the last round, too. Tkachuk was great in round one versus the Lightning, registering nine points in five games, but he was relatively quiet in round two against Boston, scoring just one goal (in Game 1), and he went pointless in three games. With that said, Florida was able to beat Boston because they’ve got more than one elite offensive player, like Aleksander Barkov, Sam Reinhart, and Carter Verhaeghe.

Rangers vs. Panthers Series Prediction

According to our projections, Florida will win the series approximately 52.5 percent of the time, which means the Panthers should be listed as a -110 series favourite. However, even though Florida is expected to come out on top more often than not, there’s enough value to bet on the Rangers to win the series at +123 odds, the current offering available at NorthStar Bets. Check out the full breakdown of our series prediction from a probability perspective below.

Team4 Games5 Games6 games7 GamesWin Series
New York5.4%12.1%13.7%16.3%47.5%
Rangers vs. Panthers Series Probabilities

New York Rangers Series Winner


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Learn how to predict the winner of a best-of-seven playoff series here.

Best Bet for Game 1

With Igor Shesterkin and Sergei Bobrovsky manning their respective creases, bookmakers have put too much emphasis on the goaltenders. For example, NorthStar Bets has the game total set at 5.5 goals, with the over listed at -109, but the last 19 meetings between the Panthers and Rangers have featured at least six goals. You’d have to go back to November 20th, 2016, to find a game between these two teams that featured five goals or less.

Rangers vs. Panthers Over 5.5 Goals (Game 1)


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