Rangers monster-sized rookie thrives playing role of outlaw on the road

NHL: New York Rangers at Philadelphia Flyers
Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

When the New York Rangers hit the ice in D.C. for Game 3 against the Washington Capitals, they’ll be looking to take a 3-0 stranglehold in this best-of-7 playoff series. With each passing game of any series, the wins become tougher to come by, and as Rangers’ legend Mark Messier once explained, the last win is usually the toughest.

In Game 2 at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, things got feisty as the Capitals decided to agitate and skate the fine line of dirty play to throw the Rangers off their game. Artemi Panarin was the main target, with Capitals’ forward T.J. Oshie harassing him all night. That came to an end when Panarin finally had enough and put a shoulder into an unsuspecting Oshie’s chest, knocking him out of the contest for several minutes.

New York won the game by a 4-3 score, and it’s very likely the desperate Capitals will decide to cross the line if Game 3 starts to get away from them.

If that’s the case, enter monster-sized rookie Matt Rempe, who may finally have to let the Capitals know that their antics won’t be tolerated.

Related: Jacob Trouba steps up in Game 2

Matt Rempe thrives for Rangers in road games

NHL: New York Rangers at Toronto Maple Leafs
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no doubt that the 21-year-old loves to play in front of the home crowd, as chants of “Rem-pe, Rem-pe” have filled the Garden, even when he’s not playing. The iconic roof nearly came off the building when he scored the first goal of these playoffs in Game 1 on Sunday.

“It was unbelievable,” Rempe said of Rangers’ fans. “I love them, I don’t want to let them down. I want to play my hardest every single game for them.”

However, the 6-foot-8 forward has really earned his reputation off Broadway, which started with his NHL debut in the Stadium Series at MetLife Stadium. In that game, he took on New York Islanders heavyweight Matt Martin to help spark the Rangers to a dramatic 6-5 come-from-behind OT victory.

Matter of fact, both his regular-season points came on the road, with his only goal being a game-winner in Philadelphia against the Flyers. He also took on veteran bruiser Nicolas Deslauriers and lumped him up for good measure in that game.

Oddly, with five less games and a full two minutes less of average ice time in road games, Rempe has been an absolute menace away from the Garden. He’s racked up more points and fights playing the role of outlaw than as a hometown hero. It’s something that will need to continue in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.


Coming into this series, Rangers coach Peter Laviolette made it a point to say that his team will not be pushed around by the likes of Tom Wilson, or any other player.

“I don’t think it’s been an issue for us. I think we have guys that can play a physical game,” Laviolette said. “I don’t think we’ve been in games where we’ve been bullied or intimidated.”

Rempe is a big reason why Laviolette feels that way. Of course, his teammates really appreciate what he’s been able to do for them in a short time.

“We’re all in this thing together. He’s not left out there on his own. We’re all with him, every step of the way,” captain Jacob Trouba stated after the massive line-brawl against the New Jersey Devils on April 3.

And Rempe feels that love.

“Those guys are my brothers,” Rempe told Vince Mercogliano of LoHud.com. “That wasn’t planned or anything. It just kind of happened naturally. I think that was really special that they did that, as well. I knew that I was going to have to fight. It’s not a big deal − answer the bell type of thing. It happens, but for them to go to war with me was pretty dang special. … I love all those guys.”

That camaraderie will come into play Friday night in Washington, and should tell the Capitals along with anyone else, this Rangers team is built differently.

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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