How Should New Jersey Devils Address Matt Rempe On Wednesday Night?

The New Jersey Devils are facing Matt Rempe for the last time this season and the first time since his disgusting elbow knocked Jonas Siegenthaler out for weeks. How should the Devils handle this matchup?

New York Rangers center Matt Rempe (73)
New York Rangers center Matt Rempe (73) / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New Jersey Devils take on the New York Rangers on Wednesday for the final time in 2023-24. The Rangers are looking to sweep the season series, which is a huge disappointment after the Devils knocked the Rangers out in seven games in last year’s playoffs. 

It’s not even the losses. While any losses hurt against the Rangers, these losses especially hurt. In two games, Matt Rempe delivered dangerous and illegal hits that caused him to get thrown out of the game, yet the Devils failed to score on both ensuing major penalties. 

It was especially pathetic in the last game, where Rempe refused to fight Kurtis MacDermid and then threw a terrible elbow into the head of Jonas Siegenthaler. There was no excuse for the hit. He went after his head with full knowledge of what he was doing. Yet, the Devils didn’t respond. 

The best way for the Devils to respond to that hit was to win the game. They didn’t come close. Instead of standing up for their teammate, they let the Rangers skate all over them. The Devils had no goals at the time of the Rempe elbow, which he got suspended four games for, and they ended the game with just one. Simon Nemec scored with just over two minutes remaining. 

So now that the Devils are out of the playoff picture thanks to a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night, what will happen on Wednesday when the final installment of the Hudson River Rivalry pops off? All eyes will be on what happens with Rempe. When we he get ice time? Will Peter Laviolette take advantage of last change and keep Rempe away from hard hitters like MacDermid? 

The Devils obviously want to win the game. Getting swept in the season series to your rival is embarrassing. Even with the loss to the Penguins, the Devils still want to get a win in this game. That’s first and foremost the goal. Winning is the best way to “get back” at Rempe and the Rangers for his awful play style this season. 

However, they can still make Rempe “pay” and get the win. It’s a delicate line, but it’s one that’s worked in the past. As long as they aren’t obsessed with the thought of going after Rempe and just let the big hit come, then the Devils can bide their time. 

It’s clear that Rempe has no interest in fighting anyone on the Devils. So, the Devils have to send a message another way. Show him a player can lay into a man and do it legally. Damon Severson used to be great at this. He took out Brad Marchand the first time the Devils took on the Bruins after Marchand’s dirty elbow on Marcus Johanssen. 

The Devils need to be smart about this. Make this a practical destruction. This is never going to equal what he’s done in the past, but the Devils have to focus on sending a message that they can’t be pushed around. Especially by some fourth liner.