Opinion: Torn on What to do Regarding Rangers’ Rempe

Photo: Bruce Bennett

When Matt Rempe first stepped onto the ice with the New York Rangers, he created a lot of buzz.

He fought guys, threw big hits, played a physical brand of hockey, and did not back down from any opponent. Every time he hit the Garden ice, fans chanted Rempe’s name and waited for him to deliver a bone-crunching check.

The hype grew even bigger in Game 1 of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Washington Capitals. In that game, Rempe, 21, scored the Rangers’ first goal of the postseason and was a very effective player on a line with Jimmy Vesey and Barclay Goodrow as he helped offensively, played responsibly on the defensive end of the puck, and looked like he belonged on the ice.

Since that game, however, things have been much different for the Rangers’ big boy. He has played in just seven of the team’s 11 games, is averaging just 6:18 of ice time, and has eight penalty minutes.

In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Florida Panthers, the Rangers were not only shutout by a score of 3-0, but they were also outhit 38 to 27. During the game, Matthew Tkachuk hit Vincent Trocheck hard in the first period as Trocheck was caught with his head down.

Filip Chytil was hit hard by a Panthers player with just seconds remaining in the game. Given his concussion history, the Rangers really cannot afford for Chytil to be vulnerable to big hits.

This brings us to Game 2, which is on Friday night, May 27 at Madison Square Garden. The team, besides putting the puck in the net, needs to be a lot more physical than they were in Game 1 if they want to get back into this series.

Rempe would certainly be a solution to that problem. He hits anything that moves, he finishes his checks, and when he is on the ice, the opponents are less hesitant to take a run at a Rangers player.

There is also no doubt that Rempe would spark the crowd. Yes, Ranger fans were very loud before the start of the game, but once the Panthers made it 1-0, the crowd got quiet and seemed pensive for the rest of the night.

One Rangers legend who agrees that Rempe should be put into the lineup is Hockey Hall of Famer Mark Messier. After the game, Messier said on ESPN that Rempe could help spark some emotion not only into the crowd, but into the team as well.

“They gotta get themselves emotional,” Messier started to say. “Maybe they should think about having [Matt] Rempe in the lineup. … I’m not questioning the coach, but I am saying he does get in on the forecheck. He does ground and pound. He does get the crowd involved and the players seem to follow that kind of mindset.

“Right now they’re playing, in my opinion, they’re a little too careful.”

While it looked like the Rangers held back a bit in Game 1, there could be some negatives to inserting Rempe into the lineup. He could take a bad penalty, he could play too physically and lose focus on the task at hand, or he could end up hardly seeing the ice.

It will certainly be interesting to see what Laviolette decides to do regarding his big enforcer. Will he listen to critics like Messier who say that Rempe should be put back into the lineup or will he stick with the same lineup in hopes they bring emotion, physicality, and hopefully a win to even the series in Game 2?

In this week's episode, we have on guest HockeyStatMiner to discuss NYR's Salary cap situation, potential moves and more.How to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITRThanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Guest HockeyStatMiner
  2. Many Directions, One Goal
  3. A Heartbreaking End, Offseason Begins
  4. Game 5 Recap : Guest Joe Fortunato
  5. Game 4 Recap : Breakout Breakdown

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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