GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The New York Rangers realize nothing will come easy against the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference Final, but they see similarities between their next opponent and the Carolina Hurricanes.

Game 1 of the best-of-7 series is at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS).

"Florida's been a top team in the League; they played for the Stanley Cup last year and finished first in the [Atlantic Division]," Laviolette said Sunday. "They bring speed, size, skill, and physicality. There are some similarities to the way the Hurricanes play ... an aggressive mindset. So, some of that will be similar in preparation, but they're also a little bit different."

The Panthers eliminated the Boston Bruins with a 2-1 win in Game 6 of the second round at TD Garden in Boston on Friday. They lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final in five games last season.

"I think Florida picked up some good confidence and experience last year making that run in the playoffs," Laviolette said. "They've got a group that's been around and has been there, done that. I think confidence goes with that too. They're big, they're strong, they're physical.

“But Carolina was a lot like that as well ... they played a fast, physical, aggressive game. They're a little bit different in the way that they both play the game, but there’s similarities."

The Rangers advanced with a 5-3 win in Game 6 of the second round at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Thursday. They held an optional practice Sunday without defensemen Adam Fox and K'Andre Miller, who each took a maintenance day. Any chance to get added rest prior to what many expect to be a tough, physical series against the Panthers is a bonus.

"I think [rest] is a good thing if you can take advantage of it and have good practice days,” forward Chris Kreider said. “This is our first day back (since eliminating Carolina), so we haven't gone over a lot of what they do yet. But [the] last year or two, they’ve got a very good team; lot of strengths -- great offense, great defense, great goaltending, so [it’s] going to be a great challenge for us."

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New York knows continued postseason success on special teams is crucial against Florida. The Rangers’ power play ranks third in the playoffs at 31.4 percent (11-for-35), behind the Edmonton Oilers (36.8 percent) and Colorado Avalanche (36.7). The penalty kill has been even better, ranking second (89.5 percent; 34-for-38), just behind the Oilers (90.6).

New York has scored as many short-handed goals as they have allowed power-play goals in the playoffs (four).

"The (penalty kill) has been working really hard," Kreider said. "I feel like we've been really prepared, but executing fairly well, and when your best penalty killer is your goaltender, you're going to have success."

New York has outscored the opposition 35-26 in 10 postseason games. It has allowed the fewest goals of any team remaining in the playoffs.

"I think in the course of playoffs, you're going to find your team with some highs and some lows, and you've got to figure out how to move on from those highs and lows," Laviolette said. "All of it, in a bigger picture, puts some scars on you that I think make you tougher. It's naive to think the power play is going to score you two or three goals every single game. It's naive to think that we will win every game.

"But it's what you do after you don't have the success that you're looking for and how do you respond to things that I think makes you a little bit tougher."

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