Lemieux Has A Role Against the Rangers

Carolina Hurricanes v Toronto Maple Leafs
Carolina Hurricanes v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages

Sunday begins the next chapter of the Carolina Hurricanes' journey to the Stanley Cup. After defeating the New York Islanders in five games, they will head back to New York to face the New York Rangers. The President Trophy winners had an easy time with their first-round opponent, the Washington Capitals. A series sweep gave the Rangers a few more days rest over the Canes.

The series match-up has been analyzed and gone over by the experts in preparation for game one but every series has an unexpected contributor that can have a big impact on the series. Brendan Lemieux will fall under this category against the Rangers.

A former Rangers player himself, Lemieux, brings an element to the game that will counter some of the more physical players in the Rangers lineup. The Rangers are a fast and offensive zone team but led by captain, Jacob Trouba, New York can throw the body around.

Of course, the focus around the physical play with the blue shirts is with the rookie, Matt Rempe. Since coming into the league, Rempe has been the talk of the league with his consistent habit of dropping the gloves. His first shift in the NHL saw him drop the gloves with Islanders' Matt Martin.

The 6'7 forward racked up 71 penalty minutes in just 17 games played. He was able to pick up a goal in the first round and continued to make headlines with a borderline hit. The "goon" label has fallen upon Rempe but his physical presence is undeniable and will need to be countered in the coming weeks.

The Canes lost some physicality at the trade deadline to add more scoring up front. The moves made the team dangerous but losing Michael Bunting took some grit away. Lemieux was used sparingly during the season, appearing in just 32 games. His impact was large in those limited minutes and he played a strong two-way game while contributing in the physical part of the game. The former Buffalo Sabres draft choice had 64 penalty minutes this season.

Certainly an agitator, Lemieux can get the opposition off their game while wearing them down physically. Gifted was soft hands, Lemieux is not a liability on the ice but is not a top-line talent. The potential that he could bring to the lineup may be more valuable than Jesperi Kotkaniemi or Jack Drury. Even if it is just for a fill in game to calm things down, Lemieux will almost certainly see the ice.