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Mika Zibanejad (93) of the New York Rangers celebrates with his teammates as Gary Pearson offers his best prop picks for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final between the Rangers and Panthers.
Mika Zibanejad (93) of the New York Rangers celebrates with his teammates after scoring his second goal against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 5, 2024 in New York City. Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images via AFP.

The New York Rangers host the Florida Panthers tonight at Madison Square Garden in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final, as we offer our Panthers vs. Rangers predictions based on the best NHL odds.

After losing in last year's Stanley Cup Final, the Florida Panthers are back in the Eastern Conference Final. On the other side awaits the New York Rangers, who have reached this stage for the second time in three years after losing to the Tampa Bay Lighting in 2022.

Those two meet tonight at Madison Square for Game 1, which begins at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. These teams are evenly matched according to Betway with -111 odds on the moneyline for each side.

The Panthers are favored by the Stanley Cup odds at some sportsbooks, while the Rangers regularly have the longest odds among the remaining teams. Their regular-season encounters were tightly contested, with two of the three meetings decided by a single goal and Florida winning two of the three contests.

To accompany our Oilers vs. Stars predictions, here are our best Panthers vs. Rangers predictions and NHL picks (odds via our best NHL betting sites; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

Panthers vs. Rangers Game 1 expert picks

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Panthers vs. Rangers predictions for today

Mika Zibanejad Over 0.5 assists ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The assist king was back at it in Game 6 against the Carolina Hurricanes, notching his almost obligatory apple on Chris Kreider's first of the third period. Zibanejad has at least one assist in nine of 10 playoff games, with Game 5 against the Hurricanes the only exception.  

The 31-year-old has continued producing assists despite his team's recent power-play skid. The Rangers are 1-for-10 with the man advantage since Game 2 against the Canes. Zibanejad has 11 assists in 10 games, including four in five home contests. The -115 odds imply a probability of 53.49%, and a $10 bet will pay a profit of $8.70 if it hits. 

Best odds: -115 via Betway

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Chris Kreider anytime goal ⭐⭐⭐⭐

After a third-period natural hat trick that propelled the Rangers past the Hurricanes in Game 6, I'm expecting Kreider to enter Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final riding a wave of momentum.

While almost a week has transpired since his unforgettable 20 minutes, Kreider's electric vibes should extend through the opening game. He plays on a line with Zibanejad, lifting the probability of the Rangers' all-time leading playoff goalscorer adding to his 47-goal haul. 

Kreider has seven goals in 10 playoff games, three of which coming in less than nine minutes in the Game 6 comeback triumph. At +162, Betway provides tasty plus-money odds for Kreider. The odds imply a probability of 38.17%, and a $10 winning bet pays a profit of $16.20. 

Best odds: +162 via Betway

Matthew Tkachuk Over 0.5 assists ⭐⭐⭐

With 14 points in 11 playoff games, Tkachuk leads the Panthers in scoring. Tkachuk has notched at least one assist in six of 11 playoff games but struggled against the Boston Bruins - at least in the assist department, as he secured a minimum of one apple in two of six contests, including one in the decisive Game 6 tilt. 

He had at least one helper in four of five games against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the opening round, though, and had three assists in as many regular-season games against the Rangers. Starting with a blank canvas should help Tkachuk restore his dominance from the Lightning series.

At +105, Betway's odds imply a probability of 48.78%. A $10 bet will pay a profit of $10.50 if it hits. 

Best odds: +105 via Betway

Panthers vs. Rangers Game 1 info & odds

  • When: Wednesday, May 22
  • Puck drop: 8 p.m. ET
  • Where: Madison Square Garden, New York
  • How to watch: ESPN, Sportsnet
  • Favorite: Pick'em (-115 via Betway)

Panthers-Rangers predictions made Monday at 12 p.m. ET.

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