Matt Rempe could replace rookie Rangers are ‘happy’ with against Devils

NHL: New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Peter Laviolette wasn’t giving away any lineup secrets for the New York Rangers next game against the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday. But it appears enforcer Matt Rempe will return to the mix after being scratched the previous two games and fellow rookie Will Cuylle could be watching from the press box.

Rempe took first reps on the fourth line with Barclay Goodrow and Jimmy Vesey at practice Tuesday. Cuylle swapped in for Rempe but is likely going be scratched for the second time this season.

The move seems to be more about the Rangers trying to get each of their 13 forwards playing time down the stretch of the regular season and less about Cuylle’s recent play.

“We’re happy with Will and the way he’s played this year,” coach Peter Laviolette said after practice. “He’s had a really good year for us. Hope that continues.”

Cuylle leads the Rangers and all NHL rookies with 237 hits, including four in just over nine minutes of ice time during a 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday. The 22-year-old played the first 70 games this season before he was a healthy scratch against the Florida Panthers on March 23. He has 12 goals, though only one in his past 12 games.

“Will has been a really good player for us and I’m fortunate to have 13 good [forwards] right now that bring something different,” Laviolette explained.

Related: Another defenseman set to return from injury for Rangers

Will Cuylle could be replaced by Matt Rempe in Rangers lineup against Devils

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Rangers
Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

It’s always felt like Rempe would play against the Devils on Wednesday, no matter who would come out of the lineup to make room for him. This could be a physical and emotional game, what with New Jersey desperate to remain alive in the playoff race and equally angry at Rempe.

Cuylle simply appears the victim in a numbers game. Especially with Jonny Brodzinski praised by Laviolette for playing well on the third line with Alex Wennberg and Kaapo Kakko.

Rempe has played two games against the Devils so far and was ejected from each, leaving an injured New Jersey player in his wake each time. On Feb. 22 at Prudential Center, Rempe totaled 17 penalty minutes and was kicked out of the game for a hit on Devils forward Nathan Bastian. And on March 11 at MSG, the 6-foot-8 rookie was assessed a match penalty for elbowing Devils defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler.

Rempe was suspended four games for that transgression. And the Devils remain hot that Bastian and Siegenthaler each has missed considerable time with injury.

Prior to that last meeting with the Devils, Laviolette advised Rempe not to get baited into a fight, which he did avoid despite Kurtis MacDermid’s best attempts. It’s unknown what his advice will be Wednesday at The Garden, but if Rempe plays, he will have a target on his big back.

“All depending on what the game might need or what we think it might need, we make [lineup] decisions,” Laviolette explained.

Rempe played three games after his suspension concluded without incident and with limited ice time. He was then scratched against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday and the Penguins on Monday.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

Mentioned in this article:

More About: