The Rangers need to put their physical forward back in the lineup

Apr 21, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Matt Rempe (73) scores a goal in the second period against the Washington Capitals in game one of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers dropped the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Florida Panthers after getting shut out at home. They were outshot by their opponent for the ninth straight game and, as a result, lost the game with a final score of 3–0.

Over the course of the postseason, head coach Peter Laviolette has struggled to make his mind up about one player: Matt Rempe. In the games where the Rangers’ bruising rookie is in the lineup, he barely plays. But Laviolette has recently decided to take Rempe out of the lineup altogether.

For this particular series against the Panthers, the Rangers need to put Rempe back in the lineup. Adding Rempe back into the mix would give the Blueshirts the physicality that they were clearly lacking in Game 1.

Why Matt Rempe should be back in the Rangers’ lineup

New York Rangers center Matt Rempe (73) celebrates a goal that was later overturned by replay during the second period against the St. Louis Blues at Madison Square Garden
Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Rempe is one of the Rangers’ most exciting young players. The rookie appeared in 17 games this season, totaling just two points (one goal, one assist), but making an impact nonetheless on the third line with his physicality and willingness to fight.

He’s been on the ice for seven postseason games, seeing minimal usage, however, with an average time of 6:19 on ice. But in his 44:12 total time on ice, Rempe had a +1 rating, netted one goal, and put three shots on goal. He also totaled 23 hits in all situations, making his presence known on the ice.

However, Rempe did total eight penalty minutes in those seven games — a statistic of which Laviolette was cognisant. He noted that Rempe is a “guy that gets eyes on him,” which could be one of the top reasons for his removal from the lineup.

Against a Hurricanes team with the league’s best regular-season powerplay, keeping a penalty-prone Rempe off of the ice made sense. But against the Panthers, who skate much faster and with much more aggression than most, Rempe’s physicality would be a valuable asset in this series.

What should the Rangers do with Filip Chytil?

New York Rangers center Filip Chytil (72) skates against the Boston Bruins during the second period at TD Garden
Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Filip Chytil made his triumphant return to the lineup during the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Carolina Hurricanes after being absent for months due to concussions. He provided a spark for one game before exiting the lineup again due to an illness. Chytil was back on the ice in Game 1 but struggled to provide the same spark he did against Carolina.

Inserting Rempe back into the lineup would likely result in the removal of Chytil. While it would be difficult to remove Chytil’s name from the lineup, based on this series matchup, his playing style is not what the Blueshirts need on their third line at the moment. Rather than opting for a crafty player in Chytil, the Rangers need a physical presence in Rempe.

Chytil will still play a role in this series. Due to the nature of the Panthers’ playing style, this physical series will create some wear and tear on the players. Some players will need maintenance days, carving a path for Chytil to return to the ice while other players rest.

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