Rangers coach knows referee’s ‘eyes’ on Matt Rempe during playoffs

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Carolina Hurricanes at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Five games into the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs and the biggest question with New York Rangers rookie Matt Rempe is if he’s being targeted by the on ice officials, Not necessarily being singled out, but being watched more closely because of his rugged reputation.

The latest example of a questionable call made against Rempe in the playoffs took place in New York’s 4-3 win in Game 1 against Carolina at Madison Square Garden. Rempe appeared to be backed into Hurricanes goalie Frederik Andersen by Jordan Staal. The whistle blew, Rempe was penalized for goalie interference at 10:58 of the first period and Rangers coach Peter Laviolette was apoplectic behind the bench.

A calmed down Laviolette discussed the Rempe situation before Game 2 at MSG on Tuesday.

“The game happens quick out there,” Laviolette explained. “He’s a guy that gets eyes on him for sure, just the size of him and the way he plays the game.”

Related: Artemi Panarin snubbed for Hart Trophy

Matt Rempe sticking to physical style with Rangers in playoffs despite penalty calls

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

Rempe has received four minor penalties in five playoff games. The first was on his inaugural playoff shift, 2:07 into the first period in Game 1 of the opening round against the Washington Capitals. Rempe was penalized for a dubious charging call.

Not only did the Rangers kill off the minor, but later in the second period, Rempe scored the first goal of the postseason for New York. And that’s been his success in his limited (6:49 of ice time per game) postseason play, playing hard, physical and smart, even with those eyes on him.

“I’m not getting into officiating comments for sure, but he’s shown he’s a big, physical presence on the ice … but when he plays, he shouldn’t change how he plays, the energy he brings, the enthusiasm, the intensity. That’s what makes his game so impactful for our group,” Rangers captain Jacob Trouba said after the morning skate Tuesday.

Rempe and linemates Jimmy Vesey and Barclay Goodrow have been a net positive in each of the five games, so far. Even though Rempe has received a minor penalty in four of those games, with one (in Game 2) leading to a power-play goal against.

“He shouldn’t be under a microscope … I think he’s playing under the same set of rules as every other player on the ice,” Trouba said. “I think he knows how to manage that.”

Though he played only 17 NHL games this season, Rempe was third on the team wqith 71 penalty minutes. He had his fair share of notoriety for fighting some of the League’s top heavyweights, including Matt Martin on his first NHL shift in front of 79,000 fans at MetLife Stadium at the outdoor Stadium Series. He also drew a four-game suspension for elbowing New Jersey Devils defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler.

All that, plus his effervescent style and big-time personality helped make him a cult hero with Rangers fans and a major personality in the League. And the officials are clearly paying attention.

“I can’t think of a guy who’s had such a big impact in his introduction into the National Hockey League. There was a lot that was surrounding his presence, and I think the eyes get drawn to him,” Laviolette said.

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: