Peter Laviolette juggles Rangers’ bottom-six again

The bottom-six carousel of healthy scratches continued to spin on Wednesday, when Jonny Brodzinski was the odd man out this time around against the Devils.

After the Rangers put forth an uninspiring performance in the previous game, head coach Peter Laviolette opted to inject the lineup with some guaranteed energy by plugging Matt Rempe back in after scratching the 6-foot-8 ½ forward in the previous three contests.

Rempe, as usual, did not disappoint.

Matt Rempe (right) fights Kurtis MacDermid a few seconds into the Rangers' 4-3 win over the Devils.
Matt Rempe (right) fights Kurtis MacDermid a few seconds into the Rangers’ 4-3 win over the Devils. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Keeping his personal trend going, Rempe earned his third game misconduct against the Devils this season after an old-school-hockey line brawl broke out off the opening faceoff.

“I would like to have players ready for the playoffs,” Laviolette said before the Rangers beat the Devils 4-3 at the Garden. “I would like to have guys where they’re not sitting out the entire seven games through the entire lineup. And I don’t think that anybody should. Our guys have played well enough that everybody deserves to play. But again, I can’t. I’m going to have to put only 18 skaters down tonight.”

Despite the fact that Rempe has consistently given the Blueshirts a kinetic boost when he’s played, the history between the 21-year-old rookie and the Devils had to have been considered before this decision was made.

After getting thrown out for leveling Nathan Bastian — who has been sidelined ever since — on Feb. 22, Rempe got ejected again for a high hit on Jonas Siegenthaler on March 11.

The second incident earned him a four-game suspension.

The Devils’ Kurtis MacDermid finally got to drop the gloves with Rempe, who finished with 47 penalty minutes, two fights and three game misconducts in 5:03 of ice time in three games in the Battle of the Hudson this season.

Matt Rempe (right) fights Kurtis MacDermid during a multi-player brawl that broke out in the opening seconds of the Rangers' win.
Matt Rempe (right) fights Kurtis MacDermid during a multi-player brawl that broke out in the opening seconds of the Rangers’ win. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

This past weekend in Arizona, Laviolette noted that sometimes the Rangers’ opponent will factor into his lineup decisions.

He gave the example of wanting the Will Cuylle-Barclay Goodrow-Jimmy Vesey line together against the Avalanche.

While part of it might be about the opposition, Laviolette is still finalizing his playoff lineup and analyzing different looks in the bottom-six.

Should an injury arise, Laviolette has several different combinations that the players would be familiar with.

The top-six has remained intact since Jack Roslovic was acquired to slot onto the right wing of the top line next to Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad.

The Artemi Panarin-Vincent Trocheck-Alexis Lafreniere unit has been together since Filip Chytil went down 10 games into the season.

Laviolette doesn’t foresee any plans to limit the ice time of his top players as part of load management ahead of the playoffs.

“We’re playing every other day now,” he said. “There’s plenty of opportunity for rest. I don’t know if somebody going from 22 minutes to 19 minutes is going to be a huge deal. We’re going to play the game to win the game. And then we’ll get the rest that we need in order to be successful in the next game.”

Erik Gustafsson returned to the lineup Wednesday for the first time since absorbing an elbow to the head from the Panthers’ Sam Reinhart.

After missing four consecutive games with an upper-body injury, the Swedish defenseman returned to his usual post on the bottom pair alongside Braden Schneider.

The Rangers have an optional practice Thursday before they venture to Detroit to face the Red Wings on Friday.


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