Matt Rempe returns to Rangers lineup against Bruins

Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Rempe will play his first game in 10 days when the New York Rangers visit the Boston Bruins on Thursday.

The 21-year-old forward didn’t play in the past five games, four while serving a suspension for elbowing New Jersey Devils defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler on March 11. He was eligible to return to the Rangers lineup Tuesday but was a healthy scratch in a 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

The Rangers are 3-2-0 in the past five games without Rempe. In the 10 games Rempe has played since his NHL debut in the outdoor Stadium Series on Feb. 18, the Rangers are 7-2-1.

Already a fan favorite at Madison Square Garden for his physical play, Rempe leads the team with 54 penalty minutes. Fifteen of those minutes came when he was assessed a match penalty for elbowing Siegenthaler in his most recent game action. He racked up 17 penalty minutes in another game against the Devils on Feb. 22, when he also was kicked out of the contest.

“He likes to hit. He’s a good hitter, and so he’s got make sure he’s doing things the right way,” Laviolette said after practice Wednesday. “That one (against Siegenthaler) got away. Every other hit has been pretty good. They’ve been heavy and physical and he brings that presence to the team. And that’s part of the reason why he’s here is because he bangs bodies. He’s also a good hockey player for us, as well.

“When he does come back in the lineup, we’ll look for those same elements.”

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking to reporters Wednesday for the first time since his suspension, Rempe sounded the part of a young player who’s learned a hard lesson and is willing to learn from it.

“It was an accident but you never want to see a guy get hurt or anything like that,” Rempe said. “I’m still going to play super hard, play the same way. I’m just going to make sure my hits are clean.”

Laviolette said the Rangers have spoken to Rempe about cutting back on staged fights and focusing more on being an impactful player with what he can do on the forecheck, in particular. In fact, Rempe said he was given “instructions” not to fight Devils tough guy Kurtis MacDermid in that March 11 game.

Clearly, the Rangers know Rempe can throw down with the top heavyweights. But they’ve learned that he’s a solid fourth-line forward, who more valuable on the ice then in the penalty box or on the suspended list.

“It’s nice to have him back and available.,” Laviolette said. “You just watch him out there [Wednesday] and you see his speed and size and the way he handles puck … but make no mistake, he’s got to play his game, too.”

Rempe skated on a line with Barclay Goodrow and Jimmy Vesey at practice Wednesday. That line will be counted on to play some important minutes against a heavy Bruins team that is at its best working in the offensive zone and below the circles.

Jonathan Quick will start in goal for the Blueshirts, who look to sweep their three-game season series against the Bruins after winning the first two.

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

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