BEST IN THE WORLD BLUESHIRTS Look To Neuter The Cats; In-Depth Rangers vs Panthers Eastern Conference Final Preview, A Star-Studded & Evenly-Matched Series – And Why NYR Will Win It, Lavy v. Maurice History; CZAR IGOR v. Bob, Full Schedule Announced For “The Beezer Cup” – But Please – No More 1994 Comparisons! Play Rempe/Scratch Wennberg, Maloney on Rosen v. Albert & More

As Chris Kreider profoundly proclaimed following the events of the Rangers’ Game 6 clincher in Carolina, “The Show Goes On!” And now, and as a result of Florida’s six-game second-round win of their own – the show will continue not only in NYC – but in Sunrise, FL too – as both of these teams prepare for what should be a nail-biter of an Eastern Conference “BEEZER CUP” Final. And by now – everyone reading this should be familiar with the career of John Vanbiesbrouck – who not only won a Vezina Trophy with the Rangers (1986) – but a goalie who also brought the Panthers to their first Stanley Cup Final too (1996)!

Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on I gotta say, having a weekend off from the Rangers was very relaxing – if not well-earned too!

After all, did you really want to sweat out a Game 7 against Carolina on Saturday night?

I didn’t think so!

The Rangers, who on Thursday night, reached the half-way point of their hopeful journey to a Stanley Cup parade this June ( ), found out a day later, Friday, May 17th, who they will host in the 2024 Eastern Conference Final – following the Panthers, who are much stronger than they were a year ago, ousting the Bruins from the playoffs – and for the second consecutive postseason to boot.

And while both the Blueshirts and the Cats have a lot in common in 2024; needless to say – the franchise histories between these two clubs couldn’t be any more different – and especially with the Rangers (1926) having a 67-year head-start over the Panthers (1993).

In a way, NHL head-honcho, Commissioner Gary Bettman, got exactly what he wanted with this 2024 ECF when he first installed parity into his league via the hard-salary cap system (2005) – the league’s biggest market vs the league’s smallest market – and where ironically, it are the Panthers who are the top topic in their own town, while the Rangers are somewhat secondary in NYC – and solely due to the playoff run of the other M$G tenant, James Dolan’s Knickerbockers – and one that hopefully ends this Sunday night.

(And why am I rooting against the Knicks? Easy – as this non-NBA fan desires the best ice possible for the Blueshirts!)

But for us Ranger fans, completely devout to our own beloved Blueshirts – and for whatever the Knicks go on to do?

It’s only about the New York freakin’ Rangers – and where for a team of destiny, fate and most importantly above all else – “Cup or Bust” aspirations – their opponents have also branded themselves as such.

And you can’t blame the Florida Panthers for doing as such either.

This will be the first picture you see sometime down the line, perhaps within these next ten-years, when the Rangers eventually retire Kreider’s #20 jersey.

To wrap-up on the Rangers’ miraculous, historic and unforgettable Game 6 win in Carolina (again, the link is here: ), we have two stories to quickly hit.

As many wondered if Rod Brind’Amour had coached his last game for the Hurricanes; on Saturday, May 18th, Kevin Weekes (ESPN) announced that Rod The Bod (and his assistants) had finally signed contract renewals with Canes’ owner, Chris Kreider Tom Dundon.

The timing of these extensions couldn’t have been any worse, as from the Carolina end of things, many wondered if the uncertainty around Brind’Amour’s future impacted the way that the red-and-black opened this series – and as a result of the 0-3 hole they found themselves in – soon lost it.

Somewhat equally as curious was that on Friday, 24-hours before Brind’Amour being extended, was that the Toronto Maple Leafs hired Craig Berube, former bench boss of the St. Louis Blues (2019 Stanley Cup winner too) – as many thought that the blue-and-white would put in a call to Brind’Amour for an interview.

At the end of the day, Brind’Amour, true to his word, stayed with the club that he never wanted to leave in the first place – and where I’m also sure that come this time next year – both the Canes and the Leafs will be bounced out of the playoffs due to leaky goaltending!

In other news following the events of Game 6, this:

On Friday afternoon, and with the Rangers now returned to their metropolitan area homes, I heard a rumor that once Kreider pulled up to his palatial estate, then he was met with a bevy of Blueshirt hats on his lawn.

And while no one is confirming the flu rumor that I talked about on Thursday night – we now have evidence that this rumor in regards to Kreider is indeed a fact!

I have no clue how Kreider personally felt about returning from a grueling trip and then being met with some immediate yard work – but hey – at least he was cleaning up hats – and not Islanders dog shit from his grass!

If I’m to reckon to guess, then it’s my suspicion that Kreider took his yard duties with a good nature and glee.

After all, his newly wed bride left all of the head-wear for her husband to find!

While I thought that this was both a cool and uplifting story, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say this too:

How do so many people know where Kreider lives?

But since Kreider isn’t a teenager, then he won’t have to worry about Stalk Boy Steven, and others of that ilk, making camp outside of his humble abode!

Thankfully, the Rangers are returned to the Eastern Conference Final. Unfortunately, the entire series will be broadcasted on ESPN – and not on TNT. Hello Dave Maloney and Sam Rosen on 98.7 FM radio! Photo Credit: NYR

The 2024 Eastern Conference Final, and just like the two rounds previous, is full of story-lines.

And much like the series’ against both the Capitals and Canes – it’s tough when trying to find a true lede.

But after flipping multiple coins, I landed on the two bench bosses of this ECF, the Rangers’ Peter Laviolette and the Panthers’ Paul Maurice.

After, all I did say the following in my Rangers/Canes series preview ( ):

Over twenty-one years ago, and on December 16th, 2003 to be specific; the Hurricanes, now seven seasons removed from their Hartford, CT departure, fired their first head coach in their newly rebranded/former Whaler history, Paul Maurice.

(And should the 2024 Eastern Conference Final feature “Some People Call Me Maurice” and Laviolette on either side of the benches – then we’ll have another historical retrospective to get into too!)

Maurice and Laviolette are no strangers to one another. Photo Credit:

This ECF features two future Hall of Fame coaches, as both Maurice and Laviolette, two of the longest-tenured active coaches in the league today (John Tortorella, Flyers and Lindy Ruff, Sabres, being the other two), go head-to-head.

For Maurice, a native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, he’s 869-736-99-144 (.470 winning percentage) in his 1,848 regular season games coached.

His American-born counter-part, Laviolette, is 807-526-25-154 (.534 winning percentage) in his 1,512 regular season games behind an NHL bench.

But for these two hockey-brained stalwarts, and with each man having over twenty-seasons of NHL coaching experience on their respective resumes, it’s Laviolette (12/7/1964), three-years older than Maurice (1/30/1967), who has his name engraved into the Stanley Cup.

Maurice, who began his coaching career six-years before Laviolette (Maurice’s rookie season was in 1995-96 for Hartford, Laviolette’s first season was in 2001-02 for the Islanders), became the first head coach in Canes’ history following their 1997-98 relocation – and where they were the Whalers no more.

Maurice had success in Carolina, and almost won a Stanley Cup too, but his 2002 Canes ran into one of the best teams in league history during that year’s Stanley Cup Final, the 2001-02 Red Wings.

A brutal 2002-03 season followed by an even worse 2003-04 season led to Maurice’s dismissal in Raleigh – and where yep – and as talked about in my Rangers/Canes preview – led to Laviolette’s N.C. arrival.

And as you all know by now – Laviolette, with his hand-picked captain, Rod Brind’Amour, leading the way, went on to win the Stanley Cup in 2006.

But much like his predecessor, the good-vibes from the Cup run (and will) didn’t last long.

Just 25-games into the 2008-09 season, two-and-a-half years following his hoisting of the silver – and Laviolette was out – and even more peculiar than that – Maurice was back in.

Maurice’s second act wasn’t as strong as the first one, as while he did bring the Canes to the 2009 Eastern Conference Final (a sweep sustained by the hands of the Penguins) – he never reached the postseason with Carolina again, and as a result, was fired one more time on November 28th, 2011 – and somewhat ironically – just like Laviolette – after 25-games played.

In their lengthy and amazing careers, and despite being intertwined in Carolina – these two men have only faced one another once before in the playoffs – a 2018 second-round seven-game series – and where Maurice’s Jets outlasted Lavy’s Predators.

This time around, and now in the Eastern Conference Final – and Laviolette will look to even the score.

Adding more juice when speaking about both of these coaches is how they landed with the franchises that they are presently coaching.

As explained many times over, and in-detail, on this site already; Laviolette, on June 13th, 2023, replaced a successful Gerard Gallant – the second coach that general manager Chris Drury fired in a time-span of two-years. (David Quinn being the other – as Drury, once being installed as Rangers’ GM, decided to go in a different, and perhaps a “SWAGGER-LESS” too, direction.)

On December 17, 2021, Maurice, now in his ninth season in Winnipeg, and who had just signed an extension a year prior, resigned from his position, as he felt that his message no longer resonated with his Jets.

At the time, many wondered if Maurice was going to enter retirement, as it was thought that he was burnt out.

But of course, following the Joel Quenneville controversy, which then led Andrew Brunette into taking over the team for the remainder of the 2021-22 season (and a Brunette who had his own off-ice issues) – and come June 22, 2022 and Maurice was back in the NHL – now as the bench boss of the Cats.

In his first season in Sunrise, FL, Maurice’s Panthers had one of the best playoff runs of all-time – and as led by off-season acquisition, Matthew Tkachuk – as the now former Flame had forced his trade to Florida in the Summer of ’22 – and a state with no income taxes may I add!

The Panthers, as the second wild-card team of the Eastern Conference in 2023, pulled off the ultimate David v. Goliath story in the first-round, as they eliminated the Presidents’ Trophy winners, the best regular season team in all of league history, the Boston Bruins, in seven-games.

Over in the other first-round Atlantic Division match-up, and for the first time in two-decades – and the Leafs had finally made it out of the first-round – following their six-game elimination of the then reigning-and-defending three years in a row Eastern Conference Champions – the Tampa Bay Lightning.

And as Leaf fans squealed with joy – while also defiantly chanting and screaming “WE WANT FLORIDA!” too – come the second-round – and the Panthers left the state of the Maple Leafs in an all-out mess, following their five-game shocker over the league’s signature perennial playoff failure franchise.

As a result of these two back-to-back Cinderella series wins – and the Panthers, for the second time in their 29-year history, were playing in the Stanley Cup Final penultimate round.

However, and as detailed in regards to Carolina during the past two-weeks on this site – it were the Canes – and not the Panthers – that were considered as a team of destiny.

After all, Brind’Amour’s Brood had been knocking on the door for years now, and akin to the Lightning at the start of the 2020s – it finally felt like it was their time – and especially with the “on-paper” superior competition (Bruins and Leafs) out of the way.

So much for the “on paper” theory – as the Panthers, led by Tkachuk, who scored three-game winning goals in the series, swept the Canes, 4-0, in the 2023 ECF.

But unfortunately for all Floridians that don’t reside in Tampa – Tkachuk also suffered a broken sternum – an injury that rendered him as ineffective for the Stanley Cup Final – an eventual five-game series loss to that year’s champions, the Vegas Golden Knights.

And sadly for the Panthers – who knows what would’ve happened had Tkachuk been at 100% – as he was easily the best playoff performer of the 2023 postseason.

This now brings us today, as the Panthers look for their second chance to play for – and then win – the Stanley Cup – and with a 100% healthy Tkachuk on board.

We all know the deal with the Rangers – and where despite all of their fantastic record-setting success made in 2023-24 – this season will still be considered as a failure should they not win it all.

After all, it’s been thirty years – and more on this, and 1994 too, below.

Furthermore, Laviolette’s New York predecessor, “The Turk,” also reached the ECF in his first season – a six-game series loss in 2022 to the Bolts.

While Lavy can surpass Gallant’s distance with a SCF appearance – at this stage of the game – and an appearance is just not enough.

And with the Panthers much more formidable, hungrier and healthier than what they were a year ago – for Laviolette and his lot – they’ll have to neuter these cats – and put their Stanley Cup dreams to sleep in the process.

The almighty odds-makers from Sin City are once again counting out the Rangers this year. When will they learn? Photo Credit: Caesars Sports Book

As we continue to look at everything and anything from this upcoming series, let’s take a gander at how these two teams fared against each other in the regular season, where the Rangers went 1-2-0 against the Panthers, while the Cats finished without a regulation loss (2-0-1).

— 12/29/23, a 4-3 Panthers’ win – and where Jonathan Quick was the best Ranger on ice:

— 3/4/24, a 4-2, empty-net abetted, Panthers’ win – and the final Rangers’ game played prior to the 3/8 Trade Deadline:

— 3/23/24, a 4-3 shootout Rangers’ win – and where Panarin scored two goals in regulation and the final goal in the SO too:

When you look at the three regular season games played between these two teams, and where really, what happened then doesn’t matter now either, then you can see that the two Russian netminders, CZAR IGOR and Sergei Bobrovsky, both finished with one win and one loss a piece.

And if you’re going to look at these three games as any sort of indicator for the future (and I really don’t like doing so – as the playoffs are completely different – and where such comparisons don’t consider the rigorous regular season travel either), then I’d look at the March 23rd game – and not just because the Rangers won that game – but solely because it was the only game played following the events of the trade deadline.

It should also be mentioned that on that night, that the Rangers’ were missing one-half of the their top-four of defensemen, Ryan Lindgren and Jacob Trouba.

Furthermore, this game also marked Chad Ruhwedel’s lone appearance as a Ranger in 2023-24.

That all said, what we can take away from these three games, and really, every other game that these two teams have played all-season, is how similar they are – and a trend that’s continued into the playoffs.

Again, and I feel like that I have to reiterate this point – and even at the sake of redundancy – what’s happened before doesn’t predict the future.

After all, if such stats, graphs, numbers from games played in the past meant anything, then how do you explain the Rangers’ penalty kill absolutely massacring the league’s best power-play, the Hurricanes, during the second-round?

However, I do feel like I have to bring up these stats anyway, so here they are:

Photo Credit: SportsNet

The Rangers, who were evenly matched with the Canes except in one department – goaltending, the Blueshirt’s biggest advantage – won’t have that same advantage in this round.

In other words, and if you can believe it, and perhaps as it should be too – then these two teams are even more identical than the Rangers and Canes were.

Sergei Bobrovsky, as opined many times on this site before, is grossly overpaid in Florida ($10M AAV vs CZAR IGOR’s $5,666,667 annual cap-hit).

But Bobrovsky took advantage of his two Vezina Trophy wins in Columbus (2013 and 2017) when he took the big money that the Panthers offered to him in July of 2019.

In his first four seasons down south, Bobrovsky posted some of the worst numbers of his career, and at points, was made the team’s back-up backstop.

What was supposed to be a strength in net had now become a weakness.

However, and somewhat akin to Jonathan Quick with the Rangers, and Bobrovsky, who will turn 36-years-old later this year, found the fountain of youth in his 2023-24 comeback season – one so strong – that by the end of it – he was named as one of the league’s three Vezina Trophy finalists.

Ironically, it was only Maurice’s former goalie in Winnipeg, Connor Hellebuyck (37-19-4, 2.39 GAA and .921%) that had a better 2023-24 campaign than the 36-17-4, 2.37 GAA and .915% Bobrovsky.

These stats are also why it’s most likely that Bobrovsky will finish as first-runner up to Hellebuyck’s 2024 Vezina Trophy win too.

But one more time – that was then – and this is now.

Furthermore – no Ranger fan cares about the Vezina Trophy right now either.

Instead, it’s all about the Stanley Cup – and perhaps what Ranger will win the Conn Smythe Trophy too!

CZAR IGOR, no stranger to his fellow comrade Bobrovsky, has also neutered the Cats many times before too.

Without question, this series features the two best goaltenders left remaining – and to go even further than that – will feature far more superior goaltending than what you’ll see in the Western Conference Final.

To black and white it, here are the current playoff goaltending stats between the top-two goalies of this postseason:

CZAR IGOR: 8-2, 299 saves, 25 GA, .923% and a 2.40 GAA.

Sergei Bobrovsky: 8-3, 264 saves, 26 GA, .902% and 2.37 GAA.

But of course, these stats are just that – black-and-white – and where you need some color inserted here too.

As you glance over these numbers, then you can see that CZAR IGOR, who played in one less game than his counterpart, has had the heavier workload.

These two goalies, and as you’d expect, took two different paths to get here.

For CZAR IGOR, the first-round was an easy sweep over the Capitals, while the Panthers had their hands full in their five-game elimination of their Sunshine State rival, the Lightning.

The roles reversed in the second-round, as CZAR IGOR was very busy against a shoot-happy Carolina team, whereas Bobrovsky didn’t have as much work on his plate, due to the fact that the Bruins averaged the least amount of SOG in these 2024 playoffs.

While these numbers do favor CZAR IGOR, it’s not like he has an advantage over the 2024 Vezina Trophy Finalist in a landslide either – and as was the case for #31 in the Rangers’ previous two series’ wins.

And despite both of these goalies being excellent throughout these playoffs, many are also predicting this series to be a high-scoring affair – as both offenses – and their special teams, both the power-play and penalty kill too – have no problem racking up the goals in bunches.

While they have their differences, Matt Tkachuk is a lot like Chris Kreider – as both men make their money and moments by crashing the net – and scoring goals from inside the crease too. Photo Credit: ClutchPoints

Moving on from the goalies and coaches, and when you look at the skaters on the ice – and once again – it’s a coin flip – and where all of the name-brand stars are living up to their billing.

For the Rangers, Kreider paces the team with seven goals, while the club also boasts five players with ten or more points, including Vincent Trocheck (14), Mika Zibanejad (14), Artemi Panarin (11), Alexis Lafreniere (10) and CK20 himself (10).

For the Panthers, Carter Verhaeghe, who has become a mini “Ranger Killer” over the years, leads the team with six goals. With eleven points, C.V. is only one of three Panthers with ten or more points, as Tkachuk paces the team with fourteen points, while Aleksander Barkov has thirteen points.

However, and when it comes to double-digit scoring, Jack Roslovic (7) and Barclay Goodrow (5) trail the big buck Blueshirts.

For the Panthers, they have four players close to cracking ten plus points, including Anton Lundell (9), Bill Pidto’s favorite player, Sam Reinhart (9), Brandon Montour (8) and defenseman Gustav Forsling (7) – and where this rearguard could be a wolf in sheep’s clothing for the Cats in this ECF.

Since it’s always the case, the Panthers also feature a pair of former Blueshirts that failed with the team last year, Vladimir Tarasenko (2-3-5 in 11GP) and Niko Mikkola (1-1-2 in 11GP).

Of the Rangers, only Trocheck had previously spent time in Florida, last playing there right before the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline – and where since that time – a lot of faces – and several coaches too – have changed.

And while both sides feature elite players and premiere scoring – it shouldn’t be reminded to you that you need physicality (and puck luck too) to win playoff games.

Of course, that brings us to who could become the biggest x-factor in this series – Matthew Rempe – who like the other Matt in Florida – is a true unicorn – as there isn’t a player in the league like him.

I don’t want to get redundant on Rempe again, so at this time, I’ll urge you to check out my previous writings – but I will also restate that I believe that #73 has to be in Lavy’s Line Up too – and at the expense of Wennberg. Photo Credit: NYR

In his four first-round games played against the Capitals, and Matt Rempe had the two tough-men in Washington, Tom Wilson and Dylan McIlrath, on their minds all-series.

In the second-round, and where he was made a healthy scratch in these playoffs for the first time, Rempe wasn’t challenged as much – if at all – that is, unless you count Tony DeAngelo barking at him whenever an official was around – and where further than that – TDA, and like every other Cane, knew that Rempe wasn’t going to drop the gloves anyway – and only due to the REMPUTATION status/scarlet letter affixed to him by the league’s inept officials.

(Holy punctuation marks Batman!)

Unlike Carolina, and much like the Rangers (Trouba, Goodrow, Vesey, Cuylle, Trocheck and even Lafreniere are all willing to be nasty – and when Panarin gets a hair on his ass – then he can be vicious) – and Florida can bring the brute force too.

Don’t believe me?

Then just ask Brad Marchand about Sam Bennett.

Along with Mikkola, Bennett and Tkachuk, and Nick Cousins (arguably the Panthers’ version of Rempe – but not quite the same), Dmitry Kulikov and Eetu Luostarinen can also bring the pain.

This is my way of saying that I’d like to see Rempe start in Game 1 – especially with it being held at M$G – and where the Garden Faithful always goes bonkers for the giant in the #73 jersey.

After all, for a series that’s as evenly-matched as they come – then the Rangers will have to exploit every advantage that they have.

Another advantage when speaking of M$G?

While obviously, it would’ve been better for the Blueshirts had they drawn the weaker Bruins; but unlike in Boston and as it will be in Florida – and every game in this series will be played in front of a Ranger crowd.

Hell, I already know many people/Ranger fans, both transplants and road-trippers alike, that will be attending both Games 3 and 4 in Florida.

As you all know by now, there are millions-upon-millions of New York transplants living in Florida – and where with the cost of tickets – for fans still unfortunately living in this high-priced NYC hellhole – then a flight, hotel room and a trip to Sunrise is both a cheaper and better experience than the one that M$G provides.

Take a look:

It will cost Ranger fans over $550 just to get into the door for Game 1 – and at least $610 for the right to sit. And if anyone has any Game 2 tickets available for yours truly – then reach out!  Photo Credit: Ticketmaster

It will run fans only $298 to enter the barn in Florida – and where unlike M$G – you’re guaranteed a seat, an unobstructed one to boot, when attending. Photo Credit: Ticketmaster

While I’ve now covered the special teams, the coaches, the goalies, the scorers, the depth and nearly everything else, there are two names that I’ve yet to mention – and a pair of defensemen that each team will need to show up in order to win – Florida’s Aaron Ekblad and New York’s Adam Fox.

Ekblad, the first-overall pick of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, and where following his selection, he won the Calder Trophy in 2015 too, has become one of the league’s best defenseman ever since his debut – but he doesn’t have a Norris Trophy like Adam Fox (2021) does either.

Both rearguards, who have had their fair share of injuries in recent years, and where it’s believed that #23 in blue is currently playing through one right now, haven’t been at their best during these 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs – but with several days of rest prior to Game 1 of this series – and then you have to think that such rest will recharge both men and do them good.

Whoever can heal faster will give their team in this tight-rope series an edge.

Both of these d-men also star on each of their team’s respective special team units – first-team at that – as Fox and Ekblad are featured on both PP1 and PK1.

And much like the Rangers, and the Panthers are also aggressive whenever on special teams too.

The Cats are also aggressive at even-strength too – their biggest advantage going into this series – and can you imagine how bad the Rangers’ 5 x 5 numbers would be without their GAG LINE 2.0?

But thankfully, Panarin, Trocheck and Lafreniere are in Lavy’s Line-Up – and you shouldn’t feel bad or make excuses because of it!

A reminder for all – you can earn real cash from me!

While of course, you have to assume that I’m predicting the Rangers to win this series (as this is a Blueshirts’ fan blog/site), and as I am – as I’m going with the Rangers in 6; at this time, let me explain why.

For as equal as these two teams are, and in every facet imaginable, the Panthers don’t have anyone like “THE BREADMAN,” good old Uncle Artie, the dynamic #10 in Rangers’ blue, either.

Granted, while the obvious “BEAT THE BLUESHIRTS BLUEPRINT” is to focus all of your energies on the GAG LINE 2.0 – in the playoffs, and in a 180 from the regular season – and Mika Zibanejad, the Swedish-Iranian dee-jay, is now spinning points left-and-right.

So even if the Panthers can find a way to shut down the Rangers’ best line – then Mika, and his BFF, Kreider too, should pick up the load – and as they have been doing.

While this series won’t be a cakewalk, and where everything and anything scares me too (and I’m sure that such feelings are shared – as it is the playoffs!); when I look at the top six of each teams, then it’s Panarin that gives the Rangers an edge.

However, and with that said, what scares me the most is if Tarasenko/Barkov/Reinhart offset Kreider/Mika/Roslovic, while Verhaeghe/Bennett/Tkachuk also match Panarin/Trocheck/Lafreniere – then can the Blueshirts’ bottom-six go round-for-round with Florida’s bottom-six?

You already know what I think about Kaapo Kakko.


Alex Wennberg hasn’t scored a goal since the Herbert Hoover administration.

While Will Cuylle, the best player on this line, is effective – he’s also hindered with these two offensive albatrosses.

Florida’s third line, Luostarinen/Lundell/Rodrigues, packs more of a punch than what the Rangers have to offer.

And I can’t get into the waters of Filip Chytil right now either – as I think he’s better off sitting this one out – and I think he’s too rusty and unreliable too.

But for as bad as the Rangers’ third line has been – the fourth line can go toe-to-toe with what Florida presents – and especially if Rempe is there to bring the bang and the boom.

Currently, Florida has a meathead fourth line of Cousins/Stenlund/Lomberg – and where I’ll take Vesey/Goodrow/Rempe over them any day of the week – and twice on Sundays.

Two of my usual non-Rempe talking points whenever discussing the final trio?

One, I love seeing Goodrow shove it up the five-holes of all of these bitch-ass ANALytical worshippers! As usual, he’s providing his peak value when it matters most – the playoffs.

Two, and I was just talking about this with my good buddy Stan Fischler the other day – isn’t it amazing (Suzyn) how Vesey, in his previous stops (Sabres, Leafs, Canucks and Devils), just out-right floundered, but now returned to New York for his second stint, he’s been a revelation?

Once again, and the Pride of the Crimson Tide reminds me a lot of Bobby Carpenter – a player from the past that looked to have a lot of potential as a high-end scorer – but once not becoming that – he completely reinvented himself as a defensive forward.

And should Vesey’s career-path continue to follow Carpenter’s?

Then like the former Ranger-turned-Devil, this Ranger-turned-Devil-returned-Ranger will win a Stanley Cup too!

These 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs have provided many iconic and historic moments – and I hope to see eight more of them in the future! Photo Credit: NYR

For hockey fans with no skin in this game – then this will be one hell of a series.

For Ranger fans, and I guess Panther fans too – then  your asshole will need to be removed by your dentist – as it will be firmly lodged in-between your molars!

This ECF features two teams with something to prove.

The Cats, no longer a whipping boy anymore, want to redeem themselves after last year’s Cup loss – and where really – such a redemption isn’t exactly required – as not only were they without Tkachuk in that loss to Vegas – but by just being here right now – they’ve already proven themselves.

But of course, proving themselves isn’t their sole goal – they want the damn silver.

The Rangers?

You already know all of it – and where the stakes have never been higher – so much so, that any type of series loss, whether it be here or in the SCF, will mar and stain what’s been the best regular season in franchise history.

Talk about pressure!

Adding to the high stakes?

The non-stop 1994 talk – one of our rapid-fire topics as we head home tonight.

Let me be clear – I LOVED the 1994 team. They were the team from my childhood. But at the same time, I’m also growing sick of all of the 1994 v 2024 comparisons – where to fair – with the Rangers as one of the final four – all of the mainstream outlets, and casuals too, are making such natural comparisons. Photo Credit: NYR

One more time – I LOVED THE 1994 NEW YORK RANGERS.

That said, when does it become about these 2023-24 New York Rangers – and not about teams from the past!?!?!

And go figure, as an “elite and esteemed” Rangers’ historian (a title bestowed upon me by Stan Fischler – and one that I’m having fun with right now by the two adjectives used here) – and I’m the one that’s saying this!

While I understand that it’s natural to draw such comparisons, as the Rangers haven’t won a Stanley Cup since; I’m also reminded about how the 1940 team was somewhat thrown to the wayside, due to a then 54-year-old curse/drought.

And in 1994 – nobody was talking about Frank Boucher vs Mike Keenan, Mark Messier vs. Art Coulter, Bryan Hextall vs. Adam Graves, Phil Watson vs. Alexei Kovalev, nor Ott Heller vs. Brian Leetch either.

Ditto Mike Richter vs. Davey Kerr.

Today, and it’s nothing but 1994 vs 2024 comparisons – and where no one is talking about the last Presidents’ Trophy winners in franchise history either – the 2014-15 Blueshirts.

Hell, and I’m not making this up either, and ESPN has announced a new documentary, one of 98767869679666 that are already out there, about the 1994 team.

What’s often lost, if not all-out lost, when making 1994 vs 2024 comparisons, are many things, including, but not limited to, the following:

— There was no salary cap in 1994.

— Head coach Mike Keenan was negotiating his way out – and even before the Eastern Conference Final! Conversely, Peter Laviolette, bench boss of today, is ALL IN with his team.

— Heck, Keenan even benched Brian Leetch in the ECF – and I don’t expect Lavy to do the same to #23 – the best Rangers’ d-man since the days of #2.

— Speaking of Leetch, look at the rosters from that time.

Outside of Mike Richter (and there were two “expansion trades” too sandwiched in-between, and for more on this, check out: ) – and there isn’t any other player that spent their entire career with the Blueshirts – and as several players are currently doing today.

— As you’re all too well aware of, these 2024 Rangers are defined by their core, a group of stars and upstarts that first came to light in the 2019-20 season.

The 1994 Rangers?

While there was a “CORE FOUR” that became marketable after the win (Messier/Graves/Leetch/Richter) – it was really a team of mercenaries, mainly from Chicago and Edmonton, where as a result – there wasn’t as much emotional attachment to the likes of Stephane Matteau, Glenn Anderson, Craig MacTavish, Brian Noonan, Esa Tikkanen, Steve Larmer, Kevin Lowe, et al – and as it is today to players such as Chris Kreider, CZAR IGOR, Adam Fox, Ryan Lindgren, Alexis Lafreniere, et al.

And hell, while I try to forget about what that disgusting piece of slime, Senile Sather, did to Brian Leetch in 2004 – even he wasn’t a career Ranger – although that’s how I try to remember him as!

What I’m getting at, and while there’s a whole lot of revisionist history written because of the 1994 win (winners write history); in 1994, there were only a select few that you really bonded with – as not many had been through the wars (and falls) with this franchise.

Today, and nearly every player, sans a few, have been through all of the wars this decade, including imports such as Jacob Trouba, Artemi Panarin, Barclay Goodrow, and to an equal extent, the YOUNG GUNS too, including Lafreniere, Kakko, Schneider and Miller.

And while no rookie can compare to a second-season Sergei Zubov; Zubov, part of one of the worst trades in Rangers’ history, was nowhere beloved as Rempe – and where you have to think that Rempe’s fellow rookie, Cuylle, will last longer in New York than Zubov ever did too.

But when on Zubov, I guess there is a Russian connection, as Zubov, along with Alexander Karpovtsev, Sergei Nemchinov and Alexei Kovalev, become the first former commies to ever win the Stanley Cup.

Today, and the 2024 Rangers are Russian heavy too, including in net with CZAR IGOR, and with Panarin, the team’s best player, also leading the way.

I guess what I’m getting at is that this team, the 2024 team, is the one that we’ve lived and died with – and for better or for worse.

The 1994 team, while of course forever etched into our hearts because of their finish, was never a team where you lived and died with each player – as after all – most of these player’s tenures weren’t for long.

And again, I’m not besmirching the 1994 Blueshirts.

I’m just trying to separate the two teams – and where I think that this 2024 team should be separated from the one from thirty-years ago – and be praised and adulated for what they have done – while not being compared to anyone else.

Again, was the 1994 team compared to the 1928, 1933 and 1940 teams?

In the same vein, it’s time to give this 2024 team their own respect.

Best in the biz, the jack of all media broadcasting trades, Dave Maloney. Photo Credit: M$GN

As we get to the end here, and to follow-up on all of my previous writings in admiration for Dave Maloney; the former captain, the man who can do it all on both TV and radio today, recently sat down for an interview with Steve Serby of the New York Post.

Here are two answers from that chat that I found most interesting:

Everyone loves J.D. – and I wish that Ron Duguay was back on the M$GN too – and with Sieve Vagistat kicked to the curb too! Photo Credit: NYP
Maloney confirmed my opinions and suspicions here – Kenny Albert is the best play-by-play man in the game – and when Sam Rosen is away from Joe Micheletti (and partnered with Maloney too), then, and only then, is the Hall of Famer at his best – and where you aren’t wondering about his frequent bouts with dementia either. Photo Credit: NYP

This is what I want for my 42nd June 13th birthday – a parade in the filthy streets of Manhattan! Photo Credit: Al “SMD” D.

As we go home here, some final remarks.

The Rangers, following their Carolina closeout, took off on Friday and Saturday.

They will return to Tarrytown, NY for practice this Sunday – and as a result – will also prepare for Wednesday’s night Game 1.

Since I’m working a ton of overtime at the real j-o-b, and weeknights too, then I will be scheduling all of my breaks on Wednesday night around the Game 1 8PM start time – and where I’ll have a GAME REVIEW blog posted for you early Thursday morning.

However, I am planning to watch Games 2 (I feel a sick day coming on – <cough, cough>) and 3 from my lucky Long Island bar (unless I score tickets for Game 2!) – and hoping to see the Rangers up 3-0 before Monday’s Memorial Day!

It’s also my plan to return sometime before Game 1 on this site, even if it’s just to cover the practice news – and whatever line-ups that Lavy may tease – as once again – what he does in practice doesn’t mean that he’ll do the same come game time.

I hope that everyone, like yours truly, is enjoying this stress-free weekend – as we’re only a few days away from everything revving back up again.

See you on the other side – and where since you have some free time – then why don’t you expand your horizons and read a book?

Of course, such a comment brings us to…

PLUGS TIME! (Buy a book and support my Rangers’ induced therapy bills. After all, I don’t run ads on this site!)

My fourth title and tenth book is now available!

“The Top 100 Villains of New York Rangers History,” is now available for sale!

For complete information, please visit:

The hardcover version of my first book, available now at

My second plug of tonight’s blog – the mandatory plug for my book, “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden.”

As mentioned previously, the book is now available in hardcover, in paperback and in Kindle formats. To purchase a copy of the book, visit this link:

For those still looking for signed paperback versions of the book, I have re-ordered more copies. I now have a few signed copies for sale at $25 a pop (includes shipping price) through me directly. Here is all the information on that:

Order “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden” Book Today

My four-volume set of books, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is a game-by-game recount of the Rangers 2021-22 campaign.

My second title as an author, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is now available in eBook, paperback and hardcover formats.

To obtain signed copies, visit:

To purchase all four volumes on Amazon, visit: – “One Game at a Time.”

The greatest volume-set of books on Rangers’ history today!

“Tricks of the Trade – A Century-Long Journey Through Every Trade Made In New York Rangers’ History,” a four-volume set of books that meticulously covers every trade made in franchise history, is now on sale.

All four volumes of the title can be purchased on and are presented in three different formats – eBook, paperback and hardcover.

To purchase Volume I: Conn Smythe (1926) – Craig Patrick (1986), visit

To purchase Volume II: Phil Esposito (1986) – Neil Smith (2000), visit

To purchase Volume III: Glen Sather (2000-2015), visit

To purchase Volume IV: Jeff Gorton (2015) – Chris Drury (2022), visit

To purchase signed copies of all four volumes, visit

If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:

Now on sale!

Don’t forget to order my four-volume set of books, “Tricks of the Trade!”

If you don’t order through me, all four volumes are now available on

For more details, check out:

Thanks for reading.


Sean McCaffrey

@NYCTHEMIC on the Tweeter machine

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3 thoughts on “BEST IN THE WORLD BLUESHIRTS Look To Neuter The Cats; In-Depth Rangers vs Panthers Eastern Conference Final Preview, A Star-Studded & Evenly-Matched Series – And Why NYR Will Win It, Lavy v. Maurice History; CZAR IGOR v. Bob, Full Schedule Announced For “The Beezer Cup” – But Please – No More 1994 Comparisons! Play Rempe/Scratch Wennberg, Maloney on Rosen v. Albert & More

  1. Good point, Sean. I do feel closer to this team than in 94. We’ve seen draft picks develop, successful trades and free agent signings materialize into a legit SC contender. The 94 comparisons are because we’re hoping for the same result. Glad to hear you share my sentiments on the Knicks. In 94 the hockey gods (sports gods?) were on our side. After waiting 54 years the thought of being overshadowed by a Knicks championship was incomprehensible. I didn’t feel that strongly this year but hey I’ll take better ice any day. I guess we’ll have to turn in our New York cards but Rangers ALWAYS come first!

    1. This reminds me of the 2014 run – as you really bonded with everyone – even late acquisition MSL, albeit, because of the passing of his mom.

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