When Marc Staal went on the LTIR before the season began it was clear which Rangers needed to step up on the blue line. Those guys were Dan Girardi and second year man Ryan Mcdonagh. It was pretty clear from the get-go that those two were going to have to eat up a ton of minutes to compensate for Staal’s absence.
At first it seemed like they were both doing the impossible. They were logging over 25 minutes a game and shutting down opponent’s top lines nearly every game. During this time people even forgot Staal was out of the lineup. Now the going just got a little tougher. Michael Sauer went down with a concussion recently and now his absence is definitely being felt throughout the blue line. Girardi and Mcdonagh can’t cover for Sauer’s minutes as well as Staal’s minutes also. This begs the question for what the Rangers should do as Mcdonagh and Girardi are going to drop dead if they keep playing this much.
Follow me after the jump for what the Rangers could do regarding their blue line.
Make A Trade- The Rangers could conceivably make a trade for a defenseman to play 20 minutes a night but this seems unlikely. I’m pretty sure Sather explored this option and didn’t like what he saw and here’s why. The 29 other teams in the league know of the Rangers situation regarding their defenseman. They are really going to make it tough on the Rangers to get a good deal on a defenseman.
Make A Call Up- The Rangers have only one player in the AHL that could conceivably play for the Rangers and that’s Tim Erixon. Erixon though has potential to become a really good two way defenseman in this league and a call up now could stunt his growth. He was recently called up to the Rangers as “extra baggage” on the west coast trip but has since returned to Hartford.
Do Nothing- I know this sounds stupid but do nothing is actually an option in this case. The Rangers can conceivably bide their time until Staal or Sauer come back and roll the same defenseman they’ve been rolling. In this case i’d suggest though that the Rangers at least cut down on Mcdonagh’s and Girardi’s minutes night by night. Guys like Michael Del Zotto and Anton Stralman (Who I think played well against the Blues) should be able to add a few extra minutes on ice without too much issue.
This is a tough situation the Rangers are in but hopefully the offense can control the play a little bit more to take some pressure off the defense. The Rangers are in a tough stretch right now but I still they have the talent to pull out some wins in Staal and Sauer’s absences.
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