Rangers Could Scratch Matt Rempe After Game 2 Developments

Matt Rempe of the New York Rangers could be a healthy scratch against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 3.

Getty Matt Rempe of the New York Rangers could be a healthy scratch against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 3.

With the New York Rangers already past the halfway mark of their second-round matchup against the Carolina Hurricanes and six postseason games played in total entering Game 3, Matt Rempe has yet to break the 40-minute barrier.

According to StatHead, among NHL players with at least six appearances this postseason, Rempe (38:11 time on ice) only sits above Dallas Stars’ Nils Lundkvist (35:49 in 8 games) in played time, which could be problematic for the Rangers from now on as it virtually means they are operating with an 11-man rotation of forwards.

May 10 Update: The New York Rangers officially scratched Matt Rempe for Game 3 on May 9. Read the full story here.

Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette addressed this potential issue in the press conference he held on Wednesday, May 8, ahead of Game 3.

“I’m making sure that we’re going into Carolina with a lineup that we want,” Laviolette told reporters on May 8. “I understand the question.

“I feel [shortening the rotation] happens all the time in playoffs when you come down to it. Regardless of minutes, it’s about winning that hockey game.”

Will Matt Rempe Be a Healthy Scratch in Game 3?

In the second-round series against the Hurricanes, Rempe has played just 7:06 and 4:03 minutes. That’s a combined TOI of 11:09 of a possible 147:24 minutes, as Game 2 went into double overtime before Vincent Trocheck scored the game-winning 4-3 goal.

Adding injury to insult, Rempe didn’t grace the ice on Tuesday’s Game 2 for both the third period and the full overtime, 27:24 minutes of it, which meant New York played with 11 forwards instead of the 12 men present on their gameday roster because of a coach’s decision.

Back in Game 4 of the first-round series against Washington, Rempe was also left on the bench for the full third period. That was the case in Game 1 against Carolina, too, although Rempe’s value comes from his antics and how he energizes and protects his teammates more than from his actual on-ice production.

That’s the fine line Laviolette will need to navigate for as long as the Rangers are alive in the playoffs and in contention to win the Stanley Cup.

All that being said, the Rangers have won 15 consecutive games with Rempe in the lineup. Since he made his debut in the regular season, New York has posted an impressive 20-2-1 record in games in which Rempe was on the gameday roster.

Who Could Replace Matt Rempe in the Rangers Lineup?

With Rempe barely playing four minutes in Game 2 and missing the final 49:57 between the last time he skated and the game-winning goal scored by Trocheck in the second overtime, it’d be reasonable for Laviolette to do something going forward.

Given how minutes are currently distributed, the Rangers are using only 11 forwards through four three-man lines instead of the optimal 12 and using a quick-shift approach to their offensive play to keep their forwards fresh.

It cannot be argued that, at least for now, the strategy has worked for New York as the Rangers are 6-0 in the playoffs and have yet to lose a postseason game this year.

If the Rangers want to change their forward rotation by making Rempe a healthy scratch, they have a few options at the ready as well as some potential reinforcements coming as they advance through the playoffs.

The immediate replacement would be Jonny Brodzinski, who is considered a better skater than the giant Rempe and could contribute more production than his teammate. Brodzinski could be inserted in the fourth forward line, making the change a natural one and not impacting any other rotational piece.

Brodzinski, however, has not played in any game this postseason although he’s a seasoned veteran with 158 regular-season games of experience. He’s only played one Stanley Cup playoff game through his career, however, back in 2022 with the Rangers. He finished the 2023-24 regular season with 19 points in 57 games.

Alternatively, the Rangers might bring back Filip Chytil at some point. Chytil missed nearly all regular-season games with concussion symptoms but he’s skated with his teammates for a few weeks now.

Chytil scored 22 goals and 45 points in 2022-23 but he could only log 10 games played (6 points, all assists) earlier this year before getting shut down for the regular season.

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