Florida Panthers vs. New York Rangers Game 6 Recap | 06/02/2024

Tarasenko celebrates his goal with linemate Lundell. MATIAS J. OCNER [email protected]

The theme of this postseason has been REDemption for the Panthers. With unfinished business from last season, fans have been encouraged to wear red to every home game at Amerant Bank Arena while Florida goes on the hunt to achieve what they fell just short of, the Stanley Cup. A tightly contested series against the New York Rangers wrapped up Saturday night with the Cats taking the 2-1 win to advance to their second straight Stanley Cup Final and a true chance at redemption. For the Rangers, Igor Shesterkin was easily the best player for them and the most consistent one for the series. However, Florida’s forechecking and defense snuffed out any sustained pressure the Rangers were looking to create while Bobrovsky stood tall in the net and made timely saves. The Panthers’ third line had one of their best games of the playoffs, and moving Tarasenko down to that line has given them some great chances. The celebration after winning the conference final was more subdued this year compared to last year, and that’s because the team knows that the job isn’t finished; there are still four more wins to their ultimate goal of hoisting aloft the Stanley Cup.

Forechecking and Defense:

This Panthers team has spent the entire playoff run being defied by their relentless forechecking pressure and great defense. Florida’s been able to dominate zone time against their opponents with that forecheck and their ability to win puck battles along the wall. Against the Rangers, the Cats blocked 23 shots and had 48 hits while outshooting them 34-24. The Panthers also had 12 takeaways compared to New York’s seven and kept forcing turnovers all over the ice. Forsling’s making a name for himself this postseason with his incredible defense; he made a diving defensive play with his stick that knocked the puck away but didn’t trip up the Ranger and saved a goal. Forsling also got in on the offense and had a handful of shots on goal with his wicked wrister shot. Forsling and Ekblad were Florida’s best defensive pair on Saturday night and shut down the top line for the Rangers. Barkov’s defense also continued to impress in this series as he made a couple of fantastic plays that broke up passes in the Panthers’ zone and was also a factor with his line in shutting down the big names for New York. Top to bottom, Florida’s entire roster has bought into HC Paul Maurice’s defense-first philosophy, and it’s paid dividends against some of the best players in the league. Bobrovsky’s been in top form, only allowing more than two goals once in his last 11 starts, and went 8-3 with a .921 SV%. He also saved 62 high-danger shots in that span and was second only to Shesterkin at the other end of the ice who had 75.

Florida’s Third Line Shines:

Midway through this series, HC Paul Maurice decided to adjust his top three forward lines, moving Verhaeghe up to Barkov’s line, Rodrigues to Bennett’s line, and Tarasenko down to play with Lundell’s line. Fans saw a bit of the Luostarinen-Lundell-Tarasenko line before the playoffs started, and getting that chemistry going prior to playoffs has made the transition easy in the middle of a series. Game 6 was a very big bright spot for that line as they had some fantastic scoring opportunities and got rewarded with being the line with the game-winner/series-clincher goal. A pass from Lundell to Tarasenko, who put it in the net on the backdoor side of Shesterkin, gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead in the third period with just over 11 minutes left; Bennett scored in the final minute of the first period to give the Cats the 1-0 lead. In Game 5 the third line got a big go-ahead goal from Lundell that gave Florida the lead and they went on to win that game 3-2. This line is clicking right now, with great chemistry and leadership from Tarasenko and two young guys on his line.

Job Isn’t Finished:

While there was plenty of celebrating following the win on Saturday, it wasn’t the explosion of joy that fans saw from the team last year. The Panthers have been all business this postseason, and they know that there’s still more to do. It’s a great showing of the shift in mentality from the team, where they went from being just happy to get to the Cup Final to being on a mission to finish it out this year. Every Panther that got interviewed echoed the same sentiment, “The job’s not done,” both prior to the game starting, where Brandon Montour said that the team was treating Game 6 like any other game to Tkachuk, Bobrovsky, and Bennett all saying something similar following the win. The team has loftier goals than just winning the Eastern Conference and has gone through an absolute gauntlet of goaltending to get there with Vasilevskiy, Swayman, and now Shesterkin. Florida’s an extremely battle-tested team and is likely to be the favorite going into the Cup Final; they’re a team that’s cool under pressure and thrives in one-goal game situations. The Panthers will face either Edmonton or Dallas in the Finals, with Game 1 set for Saturday, June 8th at 8 pm EST/7 pm CT.

In this week's episode we talk about Schnieder, Lindgren's future with NYR, and with Drury seemingly done with off seaon moves the outlook of this team.How to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITRThanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
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  4. Guest Colin Stephenson
  5. Guest HockeyStatMiner

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