Rangers have been ‘dialed in’ for stretch run: Peter Laviolette

The Rangers’ certainly had a lot on their plate down the stretch of the season.

They were playing to check every box — winning the Metro division, winning the Eastern Conference and winning the Presidents’ Trophy with the best record in the NHL to secure home-ice advantage throughout the entirety of the playoffs.

It would have been easy to get distracted with so many different races to focus on.

But head coach Peter Laviolette praised the team’s ability to compartmentalize and take things one step at a time.

“They’ve been dialed in,” Laviolette said Monday. “We weren’t talking about anything inside the room, we really weren’t. We were just talking about the games that we were playing. For the most part, I think we did a pretty good job. … We did a good job of staying focused and staying consistent and playing hard inside those games and trying to do the right things. That to me, I was happy with down the stretch. We were good, we stayed pretty solid with our game.”

The Rangers, who will be facing the Capitals in the first round, recorded a stellar 26-8-1 record across the final 35 games, not letting any of their ample races sidetrack them or prompt them to begin to look ahead.

Laviolette believes that mentality will pay off as they enter the playoffs.

“That’s good because now you’re heading into why you did all that work,” Laviolette said. “Now it’s the first round of the playoffs.”

Laviolette has picked his spots when inserting hulking rookie forward and fan favorite Matt Rempe into the lineup.

By now, it’s clear Rempe alters how opponents operate when he’s on the ice, both positively and negatively for the Rangers.

His presence is certainly felt, and opposing enforcers have lined up to fight him and test his discipline.

Does Laviolette view Rempe as someone who can handle the intensity and stakes that come with the playoffs?

“I think he is effective,” Laviolette said. “I’m trying to manage the lineup and have everybody playoff ready. His last game [Saturday in the team’s 3-2 shootout win over the Islanders] was excellent. I know it’s limited ice [time] and I know his role and his responsibilities, but they were a positive line. They put the puck behind, they were physical. … Certainly the zone time and the possession time in the offensive zone was really good. I do think he’s played in games that are big, and they’re in big moments. The outdoor game [in a 6-5 overtime win over the Islanders on Feb. 18] is one. When you’re coming down the stretch and you’re playing the top teams in the league, or you’re playing teams that have to have those two points, they have to go their way, they make the game competitive, I think he’s played well.

“So yeah, I do think he’s ready for playoff games.”

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