Matt Rempe electrifies Rangers’ fans at the Garden, ‘I love them’

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Washington Capitals at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers got off to a great start in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Sunday, defeating the Washington Capitals 4-1 and taking a 1-0 series lead in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round. This could not have been done without the fine play of New York’s fourth line, consisting of Barclay Goodrow, Jimmy Vesey and electrifying rookie Matt Rempe.

The impact of Rempe and his line was felt right away, as chants of “Rempe! Rempe!” erupted on the their first shift of the game, less than two minutes into play. This was also the second shift of the game for the Rangers, showing the amount of trust that coach Peter Laviolette has in the trio.

“It was unbelievable,” Rempe said of the Madison Square Garden crowd. “I love them, I don’t want to let them down. I want to play my hardest every single game for them.”

Though Rempe took a charging penalty on that shift, he rewarded his adoring public by opening the Rangers’ playoff scoring 4:17 into the second period. An Artemi Panarin goal was sandwiched in between another tally by the fourth line, after Rempe caused a screen that allowed Vesey to hit the corner past Capitals’ goalie Charlie Lindgren to make it 3-0.

Three goals in a span of 2:06 broke open the game to send the Rangers off to the races thanks to Rempe-mania.

“Any game he’s in the lineup he’s had an effect on the game,” Vesey explained. “He shows up every night for the team, and it’s great to see him get that goal. The look on his face was pretty good too.”

Related: Matt Rempe respects Tom Wilson

Matt Rempe scores for Rangers in Game 1 with mom at Madison Square Garden

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Washington Capitals at New York Rangers
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Not only was Rempe playing for The Garden crowd, but his mother was in attendance for the first time in his career.

“It was the first game that my mom was at The Garden,” Rempe explained. “It was really special, she got to hear the chants, and I got a goal. It was a really special night.”

On the ice, the fourth line made their presence known by being physical, forechecking hard and being relentless against the Capitals. Rempe was called for a penalty on his first career playoff shift, which probably had more to do with his reputation than the actual hit.

When the 21-year-old finished his NHL postseason debut, he walked away with a solid stat line. In 8:33 of ice time, he registered a goal on two shots, with three hits and a +2 rating.

“I’m built for playoff hockey,” Rempe said.

The trio of forwards were also named as the three stars of the game, and deservingly so.

Vesey ended the night with a goal, an assist, 11:25 of ice time, two hits, and two shots. Goodrow played 13:26, earned two assists, had two hits, and played a large role in helping New York’s penalty kill go a perfect 4-for-4.

“Big win, really special for (Vesey and Goodrow) as well,” admired Rempe. “We had a really successful line. They’ve taken me under the wing a lot. As a young guy, I love them a lot. I was really happy that we all had success and the team got the win.”

Laviolette happily acknowledged what Rempe’s hard play has done for this team this season and in Game 1 of the playoffs is definitely unique.

“I can’t think of a player that’s come in and had that impact on a team, on a fan base, on a city,” explained Laviolette. “If you watch him and look at him, he just smiles. He’s just happy. He loves being here, loves to play the game. He’s been great.”

Going forward, it will be interesting to see if Rempe and his linemates can continue their performance heading into Game 2. Challengers such as Tom Wilson and Dylan McIlrath of the Capitals have already exchanged pleasantries with Rempe, which is certainly something to keep an eye on as the series develops.

Whether something transpires between them remains to be seen, but Rempe already proved he can handle playoff hockey.

After all, he’s built for this.

Dane Walsh is a life-long fan of the New York Rangers. Growing up in the tri-state area, Dane has... More about Dane Walsh

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