The Florida Panthers are back in the Eastern Conference Finals. They made it to this point in last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs as well. And they won, sweeping the Carolina Hurricanes. Unfortunately, the Stanley Cup Final did not go their way. But they have a chance to make up for that in 2024. And that starts with taking on the New York Rangers.

The Panthers have played rather well in the Stanley Cup Playoffs to this point. Florida took on the Tampa Bay Lightning in round one. There, they won the first three games of the series before defeating Tampa in five games. It marked their first playoff series win over the Lightning in franchise history.

Next, they took on the Boston Bruins in round two. Boston got the better of the Panthers in the first game of this series. However, Florida quickly got their act together. They won four of the next five games to eliminate Boston from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This was Florida's second playoff victory over Boston following last year's triumph in the first round.

Now, the Rangers await. They are a team that should not be taken lightly. But Florida has the talent to keep up with the Presidents Trophy winners. Here are three bold predictions regarding the Eastern Conference Finals between the Rangers and Panthers.

Vladimir Tarasenko finds his game

Florida Panthers right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (10) during warmups prior to game six of the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers swung a trade at the NHL Trade Deadline to improve their offense. They acquired veteran winger Vladimir Tarasenko from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for two draft picks. During the season, the 32-year-old played well. He scored six goals and 14 points in 19 games with Florida. However, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are a bit of a different story.

Tarasenko has played in all 11 games for Florida during this postseason. That said, he has just two goals and five points entering the Eastern Conference Finals. Furthermore, he has yet to record a multi-point game during the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Simply put, Tarasenko hasn't made a massive impact.

However, that changes against the Rangers. The Russian winger played with New York in the postseason last year. New York fell to the New Jersey Devils in the first round. In 2024, Tarasenko makes the impact Florida has wanted him to make against his former team in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Sergei Bobrovsky is back on the case

Sergei Bobrovsky had a playoff run to remember in 2023. The 35-year-old entered the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the backup to Alex Lyon. But he returned to the crease during their series with the Bruins. He helped lead a comeback against Boston before helping them make the Stanley Cup Final. He recorded a .915 save percentage in 19 games during that run.

This year, though, he hasn't played to that level. He has played well enough, to be fair. But Bobrovsky has had some hiccups in 2024. To this point, he has a .902 save percentage and 0.08 goals saved above expected in 11 games. In six of those 11 games, the Panthers goalie recorded a save percentage lower than .900.

The Rangers bring offensive firepower to this series. In fact, they have five players with 10 or more points so far in these Stanley Cup Playoffs. But Bobrovsky is more than up to the challenge, as he has shown before. The Vezina Trophy Finalist will put in a spectacular performance in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Panthers take East Final again

The Panthers came close to the Stanley Cup in 2023. And they were one of the hottest teams in the NHL last postseason. In fact, after beating the Bruins, Florida lost just one game before the Stanley Cup Final. That includes sweeping the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Rangers won't be swept in this series. At the very least, they shouldn't be. New York won the Presidents Trophy for a reason. But they are in for quite the matchup with the Panthers. And Florida should emerge victorious as champions of the East once again.

New York has had issues in the playoffs in the past. In 2023, they won the first two games of their playoff series with the New Jersey Devils. However, they went on to lose four of their next five games to lose the series. And against the Hurricanes this year, they nearly fell in the second round. The Rangers won the first three games before losing in Games 4 and 5 while also trailing in Game 6.

The Panthers know what it takes to get to the Stanley Cup Final. And they will lean on that experience against the Rangers. Florida wins the Eastern Conference Finals once again to earn another shot at the franchise's first Stanley Cup.