Platoon situation for this Rangers forward makes sense against Hurricanes

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers don’t appear to be making any lineup changes ahead of Game 1 in their Eastern Conference Second Round series against the Carolina Hurricanes. That means big and exciting rookie Matt Rempe will be on the ice when the puck drops on Sunday.

It makes a ton of sense to keep him in there, and why upset the apple cart after a resounding four game sweep of the Washington Capitals. Despite averaging just 6:46 of ice time per game, he was extremely impactful with 18 bone crushing hits. The 21-year-old even opened the Rangers’ postseason scoring in his NHL Playoffs debut in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round.

“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,” coach Peter Laviolette noted afterwards. “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.”

That being said, the Hurricanes are a far superior team to the Capitals and a platoon situation may be what’s best for both Rempe and the Rangers.

Related: Are the Rangers healthy heading into series with Carolina

Rangers should consider platooning Matt Rempe

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

As the Blueshirts prepare for the Hurricanes, reports from practice this week have Rempe on the fourth line with Barclay Goodrow and Jimmy Vesey. However, speedy veteran forward Jonny Brodzinski was rotating in the bottom-six, and Filip Chytil, who is slowly working his way back from a serious injury, rotated on the top-six.

Keeping Brodzinski ready to get back in the lineup seems to indicate that a possible platoon situation could be in the works.

“When you talk about the Carolina speed, they are fast, but they are relentless. They are relentlessly fast,” MSG analyst Dave Maloney said on the Forever Blueshirts podcast. “The Rangers aren’t taking a second step to speed. [The Hurricanes] are not any faster or quicker than the Rangers are. As a matter of fact, I think the Rangers are quicker because they’re a little better with the puck. But that relentless pace that Carolina plays with, to me, is probably the biggest factor in the series.”

One of the big advantages of home ice is that Laviolette gets last change. New York’s bench boss can use that to protect Rempe from difficult matchups against some of Carolina’s top players. Depending on how the 6-foot-8 youngster handles the much faster and more aggressive Hurricanes attack will dictate his place in the lineup going forward.

Regardless, when the series shifts to Carolina and Rod Brind’Amour gets the advantage of last change, it may be wise to throw in Brodzinski on the fourth line. Or if Chytil is ready to go, drop Will Cuylle down and add more offense to the third line.

The bottom line is that Rempe’s play in Game 1 will be the ultimate deciding factor in how Laviolette deploys his lineup. If he can effectively punish Carolina’s already banged up defense with his hard-hitting style, his limited role will be a valuable weapon for the Rangers.

At least at home for the time being.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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