A woman who got hit in the face by a scorching foul ball off the bat of Bo Bichette is about to receive 110 baseball cards with her picture on them, and a signed ball from the Blue Jays shortstop. 

The Eastern Conference Final is set, and it’s a battle between the league’s top team in the regular season, the New York Rangers, and the Atlantic Division’s No. 1 seed, the Florida Panthers.

The action gets started in New York with Game 1 at the famed Madison Square Garden on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.

The Rangers were the first team to qualify for the playoffs, and the Presidents’ Trophy winners got off to an incredible start this post-season, rattling off seven straight wins, starting with a sweep of the Capitals before closing out Carolina in six.

This will be New York’s second trip to the Eastern Conference Final in three seasons, while the Panthers have punched their ticket there for the second straight year.

Florida took out Tampa Bay in five games in the first round before closing out Boston in six.


Head-to-head record regular season:

Rangers: 1-2-0
Panthers: 2-0-1

New York’s Unsung Hero: Slow growth over his first three seasons led some to question if “bust” would become a description of Alexis Lafreniere, the No. 1 draft pick of four years ago, but the winger has been busting open that plot this post-season, proving himself to be a clutch playoff performer.

Lafreniere leads the Rangers in 5-on-5 points with seven, and he and Chris Kreider are tied with a team-leading four goals at even strength. Lafreniere is rolling at a point-per-game pace in the playoffs, with 10 in 10. That’s a significant uptick from zero points in seven games a year ago in the post-season, and nine points in 20 games in the 2021-22 campaign that saw the Rangers lose to Tampa in the conference finals.

This is a different Lafreniere we’re seeing. The 22-year-old is coming off a career-high 57 point regular season, including 28 goals, nine more than his previous best.