The New York Rangers go into game three down two games to none. These two games at home are must wins if they want to have a chance at a game five. A loss tonight would put the team in an insurmountable hole. The New York Rangers have gone after the Los Angeles Kings with every advantage they have. Speed is their main weapon and it’s plentiful throughout the forwards and on defense. Ryan McDonagh is a phenomenal skater but Dan Girardi is not. So in the most dire of situations I ask, should Dan Girardi be paired with Ryan McDonagh? The two have made a great shutdown pair through the twenty games and three rounds of the playoffs. However, the Los Angeles Kings are not like any of those three teams the New York Rangers beat. They’re big, fast, and skilled up and down the lineup.
Moving Dan Girardi down to play with Marc Staal balances the back-end
Dan Girardi is not a fast skater and he’s been burned a few times in the finals. So far none of those chances have put the puck behind Henrik Lundqvist but when do you make a change. Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik have beaten Dan Girardi on a few occasions. One or both are going to cash in on a scoring chance eventually. They’re two good two-way players that can’t be allowed to get one on one scoring chances on Henrik Lundqvist. To show the deeper picture on the New York Rangers top two right side defenseman, we look at the kind of players both are up against and how well they do against that competition. Dan Girardi has an on ice Corsi for of 43.3% and a (QoC) quality of competition of 29.6% at even strength. By comparison the next right-handed shot on defense Anton Strahlman, has an on ice Corsi for of 51.2% and his (QoC) quality of competition is 29.3%. What this means is that Anton Strahlman is facing almost the same level of competition and the team is getting more shot attempts for while he’s on the ice. Anton Strahlman is a better puck possession player and a better skater. While Dan Girardi still plays vital minutes on the penalty kill and is a mainstay on the back-end, his foot speed has become a liability. He used to play next to Marc Staal every game before Ryan McDonagh came to the scene so the transition shouldn’t be very hard for him and his total minutes wouldn’t change all that much.
There’s no reason to put Dan Girardi down but it may be best for the team if Ryan McDonagh and Anton Strahlman were paired together on the top defense pairing. Dan Girardi and Marc Staal would still make a formidable second defense pair. It would lighten the load on Girardi who has played his heart out in the playoffs. He deserves mention for the way he plays but he can’t keep up with Anze Kopitar or Marian Gaborik who will continue to kill us if we leave Dan Girardi to cover the two speedsters for the Los Angeles Kings. You may look at the Advanced Statistics for yourself if you like at this link.New York Rangers advanced stats 2013-2014 Playoffs | Extra Skater. Pairing Dan Girardi with Marc Staal would take off some of the tough minutes he plays and he’d excel against lighter competition.
The New York Rangers hold the advantage through the first forty minutes and then fall off in the third. For whatever reason Alain Vineault has decided to play the third period conservitively with a lead. That’s not New York Rangers hockey, they need to continue to attack the other team in their end. The Los Angeles Kings are gonna come hard in the last thirty minutes of this game. It’s important for the New York Rangers score first (and then again) before the LA Kings find their legs and make the push. Lets go Rangers.