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MX News Update 2024


Do the Rangers need Matt Rempe if they don’t want to play him?

RALEIGH, N.C. – In Tuesday’s Game 2 against a formidable Carolina Hurricanes team that is the betting favorite to win the Stanley Cup – a game that went into double overtime before the Rangers won 4-3 on Vincent Trocheck’s power-play goal – Rangers rookie forward Matt Rempe played four minutes and three seconds.

Rempe, the 6-8, 245-pound rookie who has taken the league by storm and became an instant fan favorite after making his NHL debut in the outdoor game against the Islanders in February, did not play at all in the third period, or in one of the two extensions.

Rempe was noticeable in each of his five shifts in the match. He certainly sent a message as he drove over the net, measuring his stop perfectly to gently tap Carolina goalie Frederik Andersen’s skates in the first period after Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov had earlier tripped Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin . So it’s completely reasonable to wonder if it’s worth having Rempe in the lineup if coach Peter Laviolette doesn’t feel like he can have him on the ice late in the game.

“I just think that’s the nature of the beast in playoffs,” Laviolette said Wednesday during his media session at the Rangers’ practice facility before the team flew to Raleigh, N.C. for Thursday’s Game 3. then you are behind in the third period (3-2). Regardless of the minutes, it’s about winning that hockey game. And so… while I was playing the game (Tuesday), I was thinking about Mika’s (Zibanejad) line coming off, and then (Alex Wennberg’s) line was playing for maybe 30 seconds, and suddenly, there’s an offensive zone face-off and you put Mika back there.

“You just jump into the lineup. You try to even the game.”

Laviolette pointed out that there were players at Carolina who didn’t play much in the game either. Forward Max Comtois played 6:19 for the Hurricanes in Game 2. But Rempe is a 21-year-old rookie and he didn’t play after leaving the ice with 2:33 left in the second period.

By reducing his forward rotation to 11 players, Laviolette was able to give extra ice time to some players, such as Alexis Lafreniere, who scored two goals in the game and who Laviolette said was jumping and making things happen all night. It was sometimes double shifted. And Trocheck, who plays on the power play and penalty kill, was often sent onto the ice as the second faceoff man in defensive zone draw situations, and led the team in ice time — very strange for a forward — with 35:21.

With Rempe out of the rotation, Laviolette left his top two lines – the Chris Kreider-Zibanejad-Jack Roslovic trio and the Artemi Panarin-Trocheck-Lafreniere trio – together, while throwing the bottom two lines into a blender.

At times, Lafreniere took Kaapo Kakko’s spot on the third line, and Kakko dropped to the fourth line, to Rempe’s spot on the right wing. Other times, Will Cuylle dropped to the fourth line, on the left wing, and Jimmy Vesey switched from left to right to fill Rempe’s spot.

Given that Laviolette has generally been consistent in keeping his forward lines together, he ended up with a number of combinations that had not been together before and had not practiced together. But the players had no problem adjusting, said fourth-line center Barclay Goodrow.

“I think it’s just been that way all year,” Goodrow said. “In D-zone matchups, we like to have a few centermen so you get used to playing with different guys. When you get stuck in the D-zone, you spend an extended amount of time with those guys… you kind of get used to those different situations.”

However, there may come a time when Laviolette wants to have a 12th forward at his disposal in the final period and crunch time, and if he doesn’t trust Rempe to handle those minutes, he may consider a lineup change. He could bring in Jonny Brodzinski, who played 57 games in the regular season after joining from AHL Hartford in late November, or he could consider the 6-7 Adam Edstrom, who offers many of the same forechecking and passing skills as Rempe. without the combat capabilities.

Or he could use center Filip Chytil, who missed the last 72 games of the regular season with a suspected concussion. Chytil, who started the season as the No. 2 center playing between Panarin and Lafreniere, has been practicing with the team since mid-April.