NHL Eastern Conference Finals Preview: Game 2 Picks for Rangers vs Panthers

NHL Eastern Conference Finals Preview: Game 2 Picks for Rangers vs Panthers

This article is part of our NHL Picks series.

NHL Picks: Florida Panthers at 
New York Rangers  
Game 2 NHL Best Bets and Player Props

The Panthers and the Rangers will battle it out in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET, and the game can be viewed or streamed on ESPN and ESPN+.

The latest NHL odds for the playoffs and the Stanley Cup odds are updated throughout the postseason as the Conference Finals have gotten underway. The BetMGM bonus code now gets new players a first-bet offer worth up to $1,500, allowing them to get in on the action for the NHL postseason.

The two teams kicked off the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, with Sergei Bobrovsky stealing the show. He turned aside all 23 shots he faced for his first shutout of the postseason as the Panthers picked up the 3-0 victory in front of a stunned home crowd in Manhattan.

Matthew Tkachuk opened the scoring at 16:26 of the first period with assists to Gustav Forsling and Carter Verhaeghe. That's how things stood through a scoreless second period and well into the third. That's when Verhaeghe was credited with a goal in the third period -- he sent a centering pass which was intercepted by Alexis Lafreniere, who accidentally tipped the puck past his own goalie to make it 2-0.

The final goal came on an empty-netter as Sam Bennett put a bow on the scoring late in the third to clinch it. Florida nearly had another score earlier in the game, but Oliver Ekman-Larsson had a goal waved off after Ryan Lomberg made contact with Igor Shesterkin in the crease.

Shesterkin wasn't terrible, making 24 saves, but he wasn't on the level of Bobrovsky. The Florida veteran netminder stopped a one-timer by Kaapo Kaako in the third period, which would have given New York life. Mika Zibanejad also had a clapper with the extra attacker with 79 ticks left which would have sliced into the lead, but Bob was equal to the task.

The good news for the Rangers is that Filip Chytil (concussion) was able to make his second appearance of the postseason. He was sidelined for the final 72 games of the regular season due to a concussion, and only made a brief appearance in Game 3 against the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round before checking back out since.

The President's Trophy-winning Rangers are slight underdogs at home for Game 2, while the Panthers, who represented the Eastern Conference in last year's Stanley Cup Finals, are the slight favorites. The Rangers have won just once in the past four games, and they've dropped two in a row at home. Florida can take a commanding 2-0 series lead back to South Florida, but you have to believe New York's offense will be much better in Game 2. Side with the slight 'dogs.

NHL Moneyline Bets for Panthers at Rangers

  • Rangers ML (-112 at DraftKings)

The Over had been 19-0-1 in the previous 20 meetings between these teams dating back to 2016. That included three higher-scoring games in the regular season. Bobrovsky doesn't care about betting trends, though, and he and Shesterkin were not very giving in Game 1. In fact, Bob wasn't giving at all, as the Rangers were blanked for the first time since Dec. 9 in Washington by Charlie Lindgren.

This is the playoffs now, and you have to figure that scoring will be down and physicality and defense will be up. The Rangers will especially have their hitting shoes, err skates, on after getting thumped at home in Game 1.

The high-danger scoring chances should be fewer and farther between, and after years of Over results between these two teams, now look for consecutive Under results. Unfortunately, there are no shops offering a flat six after the Game 1 shutout. 

BetMGM, Caesars and ESPN Bet are your cheapest options for Under 5.5. At Caesars, the Alternative Total Goals line of Under 6 (-169) is pricey, but good for more conservative bettors, and Under 6.5 (-204) will cost you more than two times your potential return.

NHL Totals Bets for Florida Panthers at New York Rangers

  • Under 5.5 (-125 at Caesars)

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NHL Player Props for Florida Panthers at New York Rangers

Looking to the player props, we'll avoid the Anytime Goal Scorer (AGS) props since we're calling for a lower-scoring game. There is no sense cheering for goals from particular players then being bummed out they're ruining your Under play at the same time. Let's dig a little deeper into other stat areas.

For the visitors, you have to figure the Rangers are going to fire plenty of pucks on net, especially early, trying to solve Bobrovsky after getting blanked in Game 1. Bobrovsky made 24 saves in Game 1, and he has averaged 24.0 saves per game across the past three postseason outings. Lean Over for his save total in Game 2.

Looking to the home side, Adam Fox sold out and recorded five blocked shots in Game 1. There were no flamingos from the Blueshirts rearguard. In Game 6, the series-clincher against the Hurricanes, Fox had three blocked shots, and in Game 5 of the Canes series, he had five blocked shots. He pays the price night in and night out. Go high on his blocked shots total in Game 2.

  • Adam Fox Anytime Over 2.5 Blocked Shots (-105 at Caesars)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel Dobish
Hockey writer, unskilled fourth liner, fantasy and gambling industry veteran, handicapper, FSWA's 2011 fantasy hockey writer of the year nominee and four-time FSWA award winner. Twitter: @danieledobish
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