Chris Kreider and the New York Rangers entered the 2024 Eastern Conference Finals with a lot of confidence. Now, though, they are searching for answers. New York lost to the Florida Panthers on Wednesday in Game 1 of the East Final. Furthermore, they failed to score a single goal in this contest. It marked the first time they've been shutout in these Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Kreider addressed this loss on Wednesday night. And he didn't sugarcoat anything with the media. The Rangers star veteran said that every aspect of New York's game needs to improve moving forward. “Our whole entire game has to be a lot better. It wasn't there nearly enough tonight. It boils down to playing north-south hockey, getting pucks out, getting pucks in. That's the kind of hockey they played,” Kreider said, via's Dan Rosen.

New York failed to solve Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky in Game 1. The Florida puck-stopper turned aside all 23 shots he faced in this game. Furthermore, the Blueshirts couldn't contain Matthew Tkachuk or Carter Verhaeghe. The two forwards recorded two points each as the Rangers fell on Wednesday night.

Doing too much

New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) skates against the Florida Panthers during the first period of game one of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Kreider also pointed out that his team may have had the wrong mentality against the Panthers. When things go wrong, you instinctually try to play harder and more intense. But sometimes slowing things down to carefully make the right decisions can benefit a team more in the end. And the Rangers star thinks his team can get a bit carried away sometimes.

“We have a tendency to sometimes try to do a little too much when it's not there instead of just playing even, increasingly more and more simple, understanding that we're not doing a good job of getting through the neutral zone. … You have to work smart, not just hard,” Kreider told Rosen on Wednesday night.

In the end, the Rangers had no answers during this opening contest. The Panthers were able to generate offense when needed. And they even took advantage of a rather costly mistake in the third period. Now, New York needs to make the necessary adjustments to avoid losing both of their games on home ice.

A costly mistake

The Panthers had a 1-0 lead late in the third period. With time ticking down, the puck was dumped into New York's zone. Goalie Igor Shesterkin played the puck, but couldn't clear it. Florida regain possession and they attempted to move the puck around. However, a pass was deflected off of the stick of New York forward Alexis Lafreniere and into the net.

That goal gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead, and they'd go on to win 3-0. It was a crushing moment for Lafreniere. The former first-overall pick has played well in the Stanley Cup Playoffs to this point. Unfortunately, this play got away from him. But his teammates had his back after the game.

“I don’t think anyone’s looking at him for that play. He had a chance to tie the game in the 3rd. He’s been a huge part of the team all year, he’s played great in the playoffs. As a team, we’re looking to respond next game,” veteran forward Jimmy Vesey said, via Mollie Walker of the New York Post.

Chris Kreider and the Rangers hope to avoid heading to Florida down 2-0 in the series. They take the ice again on Friday night for the second game of this Eastern Conference Final. Puck drop is currently scheduled for 8 PM Eastern Time on Friday night.