Rangers legend believes Matt Rempe can give New York ’emotional’ spark in Game 2

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Ryan Reaves (75) lands a punch as he fights with New York Rangers forward Matt Rempe (73) in the third period at Scotiabank Arena
Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Messier believes Matt Rempe would make a huge difference for the New York Rangers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals if he finds his way back on the ice.

Mark Messier calls for Matt Rempe to return to the lineup

Jun 19, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Mark Messier is pictured on the red carpet during the 2019 NHL Awards at Mandalay Bay. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Per Christian Arnold of the New York Post, Messier wants to see more passion out of the Rangers after they dropped Game 1 to the Florida Panthers by a score of 3-0, and Rempe is just the guy to ignite that spark:

“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,” Messier said.

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

Do the Rangers miss Matt Rempe’s physicality on the defensive end?

New York Rangers center Matt Rempe (73) and New York Islanders left wing Matt Martin (17) fight during the first period of a Stadium Series ice hockey game at MetLife Stadium
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Rempe has brought an edge to the Rangers since he was called up from the AHL midseason. The 6-9 center has electrified Madison Square Garden as a hard-nosed enforcer that does not back down from any fight and wins most of them. His 23 hits in these 2024 NHL playoffs is an extension of the production he gave to the Rangers on defense in 17 games of the regular season.

While Messier is not championing for New York to start a brawl on Friday night, it’s that kind of intensity and toughness that can help the Rangers proverbially punch the Panthers in the mouth out of the gates in Game 2.

Rempe’s mindset can rub off on Rangers’ ranks and give them needed edge in Game 2 vs. Panthers

Apr 26, 2024; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Rangers center Matt Rempe (73) and Washington Capitals center Connor McMichael (24) battle for the puck in the first period in game three of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

As Arnold also highlighted, Rempe came out before Game 1 and declared that “I want to be that impact player,” for Peter LaViolette’s troops and that he’s “always hungry, always want to get better.”

The 21-year-old’s attitude and defensive talent, coupled with being a threat to put points on the board, can help the Rangers prevent the Panthers from striking first as they did on Wednesday night in the first period and thwart an explosion akin to their two-goal finish down the stretch.

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