The New York Rangers are well aware about the difficulties Presidents’ Trophy winners have had in advancing in the Stanley Cup playoffs. They’re just not thinking about that.

Since the award was first given to team with the highest point total during the regular season in 1986, only eight of those teams won the championship. Chicago was the last to do it in 2013, and the 2015 Rangers are the only team since then to advance beyond the second round.

“We don’t live under a rock,” New York forward Mika Zibanejad said. “We know what has been happening to previous Presidents’ winners, but at the same time I don’t know if that’s the main thing that drives us.”

Captain Jacob Trouba echoed that sentiment, adding: “Things in the past or trends … I don’t think our group really reads too much into them. We’re just trying to write our own page, our own story and that’s, I guess, the focus.”

The Rangers — seeking their first Stanley Cup title since 1994, when they also won the Presidents’ Trophy — open the second round of the playoffs against the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

The Hurricanes have the best odds to win the Stanley Cup, according to Bet MGM Sportsbook, and the Rangers have the fifth-best.

Under the NHL’s divisional-playoff format, this series pits the Rangers — the top regular-season team with 114 points — and the Hurricanes, who were three points back and third in the overall NHL standings.

“The Rangers were the best team and we were on their heels all year,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “Whether you play them in the first round or the second or third, you’ve got to get through the best at some point. So have at it now, I think it’s going to be exciting.”

The Hurricanes, who reached the Eastern Conference final last year, are in the postseason for the sixth straight year under Brind’Amour. Their win against the Islanders in the first round marked the first time a franchise has won at least one series in six straight years since Detroit did it from 1995-2000.

This also marks the first time the Hurricanes won’t have home-ice advantage for a postseason series since 2019, excluding games played in the bubble four years ago.

“Obviously you don’t get to start at home, which is always nice,” forward Seth Jarvis said. “But I think we have the same mentality of going in and trying to win, trying to start the series off on the right foot.”

The Rangers led the league with 30 wins at home, but both teams were solid on the road with 25 wins during the season — tied for third-best.

“You’ve seen teams lose games at home, win games on the road,” Trouba said. “Having home-ice is great but at the end of the day you’re gonna have to win games on the road at some point probably.”

SEEING FAMILIAR FACES

New York forward Vincent Trocheck spent two-plus seasons with Carolina as a key two-way player before signing a seven-year deal with the Rangers in July 2022.

Hurricanes defenseman Brady Skjei spent parts of five seasons in New York before being dealt to Carolina at the trade deadline in 2020, and Tony DeAngelo spent parts of four seasons with the Rangers before he was waived on Feb. 1, 2021.

SCORING

The Rangers were seventh in scoring (3.39 goals per game) during the season while Carolina was eighth (3.38). In the first round, the Hurricanes upped their average to 3.80 gpg, while the Rangers were right behind at 3.75.

Carolina had balanced offensive contributions throughout their lineup in the first round, getting goals from 12 different players — led by Stefan Noesen and Jarvis (3 each) — and points by 17 players.

New York had goals from 10 players against Washington — led by Trochek (3) — and 14 players had at least one point.

GOALIES

Frederik Andersen closed the regular season strong for the Hurricanes after missing four months due to a blood clotting issue. He alternated games with Pyotr Kochetkov in the final weeks, but he played all five games in the first round while posting a 2.25 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage.

Igor Shesterkin also finished the regular season strong for the Rangers while winning 10 of his last 14 starts, including three shutouts. Against the Capitals he had a 1.75 GAA and .935 save-percentage in the four-game sweep.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Hurricanes ranked second in the regular season on the power play, converting 26.9% of their chances — slightly ahead of the Rangers in third at 26.4%. Carolina had the league’s No. 1 penalty kill at 86.4%, while the Rangers were third at 84.5%.

The teams had similar outputs with the man advantage in the first-round series (Rangers 6 of 16, 37.5%; Hurricanes 5 of 15, 33.3%).

POSTSEASON HISTORY

This is the teams’ third postseason meeting — all in the last five year. Carolina had a three-game sweep in the qualifying round of the 2020 playoff bubble, and New York won the deciding Game 7 on the road in the second round of the 2022 playoffs after the home team had won each of the first six games.

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AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno and AP Sports Writer Aaron Beard contributed to this report.

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AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL