The Best Deterrent Against the Panthers’ Aggressiveness Isn’t Matt Rempe

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As the New York Rangers prepare for game one of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Florida Panthers on Wednesday, they are rounding into health. That creates a bunch of different possible roster scenarios to counter the heavy play of the Panthers, particularly in the form of Sam Bennett and Matthew Tkachuk. While many are arguing for 6’8” rookie Matt Rempe to be in the lineup, the most effective counter against an aggressive Florida team would likely be a power play that scores like it did in the second round against Carolina.

As of Tuesday morning, all of the Rangers are ready to go, including both Filip Chytil and Blake Wheeler, both of whom missed large portions of the regular season with injuries. Chytil, in particular, could create matchup nightmares for the Panthers and create a much deeper team. He played game three against the Hurricanes but had a reported illness and some general soreness that kept him out of the rest of the series. Wheeler is ahead of schedule on the rehabilitation of a gruesome knee injury suffered in February.

According to multiple Rangers, both players have provided a significant mental boost simply by being available. Of Wheeler, Jimmy Vesey told The Athletic’s Peter Baugh, “His attitude and his team-first mindset has been contagious all year.” In his one appearance, Chytil made good offensive contributions and seemed to get better as the game went on. In addition, Jonny Brodzinski has played well in his limited appearances. All of which will have to be factored into coach Peter Laviolette’s lineup decisions throughout the series.

The main argument for going with Rempe is that he creates good energy for the team using his physical game and could be a deterring force against a team that likes to muck it up. But Laviolette has been loath to play Rempe in the latter half of close games, and his six minutes of ice time per game average means that other forwards are carrying more of the load. Over the course of a long, grinding series, which most expect, that could take a toll on the team. It seems unlikely that Wheeler, who struggled at times this season with the Rangers, gets into the lineup barring an injury. Chytil looks likely to play in game one if the line rushes in practice are an indication, though his durability remains an open question.

If Chytil is and can remain healthy, he would be the player that would allow the Rangers to play the kind of game they want to play rather than letting thoughts about the way the Panthers might play dictate the lineup decisions. In addition to adding skill to the third line, moving rookie Will Cuylle to the fourth line creates, on paper anyway, the deepest Ranger lineup. But the playoffs aren’t played on paper, and much can happen over the course of a seven game series. Having all of these moving pieces is, in the end, a luxury the Rangers are lucky to have.

Winning the series could very well come down to not getting pushed around by the physicality and aggressivity of the Panthers. The Rangers have a number of different options for negating those tendencies from the Panthers, but the best of those is a power play that makes the Panthers regret their mistakes by scoring. Losing games this time of year is even scarier that being pursued by Matt Rempe, after all.  

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 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

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