New York Rangers: Dan Girardi Should Play Less Minutes


Feb 10, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi (5) during their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. The Rangers beat the Maple Leafs 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Over the years, Dan Girardi has been a warrior for the New York Rangers, but now he must be given a lesser role if the Rangers want to win the Stanley Cup.

Since the lockout season in 2005, Dan Girardi has been a staple on the New York Rangers blueline. He has played in almost every game during the last decade, and is a player who deserves endless amounts of respect for his toughness. He is a modern day warrior and a player who does things the right way.

But, the decade of blocking shots, taking hits and playing against tough competition has finally caught up to Girardi. Now he must be demoted to a lesser role if the Rangers want to fulfill their goal and change the ending.

Girardi and his partner, Ryan McDonagh, have been matched up against the potent “Triplets” line of the Tampa Bay Lightning. That matchup has been an absolute train wreck for the Rangers, and that is putting it extremely nicely.

In Game Three, Girardi played his most minutes against Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Nikita Kucherov. His even-strength CF% when on the ice against those three was 26.09%, 23.81%, and 18.18%, respectively. In the three games against Tampa Bay and mainly the Triplets line, Girardi has only been a positive even strength possession player in Game Two. However, in Game Two he was a negative possession player when including special team situations against the Triplets.

New York Rangers
New York Rangers /

New York Rangers

The advanced metrics used so much today are not kind to Girardi, but the most concerning thing is what the eye test is showing. There is no question Girardi has lost a step over the last couple of years, but it looks like he’s lost a leg at this point. There is no jump in those legs anymore. He struggles when the puck is chipped past him, as he doesn’t have the speed to get back to the puck.

I myself have been very harsh on Girardi critics in the past, but at this point it is hard to defend him. He was clearly the worst player for the Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final last season, and right now he once again looks like the Rangers’ worst defenseman. Yes, I know that includes Dan Boyle.

So now it is up to Alain Vigneault to find a way to limit Girardi’s minutes. It might be time to give Keith Yandle – who, outside of Jesper Fast, was the best Ranger on the ice in Game Three – a look with McDonagh. McDonagh has played the right side on defense in the past, so it is not out of the question to put those two together.

Girardi has done everything asked of him since joining the organization as an undrafted free agent. While many people thought Ryan Callahan was the heart and soul of the Rangers, Girardi was the beat that kept this team going. But now, it is hard to justify giving Girardi top-pair minutes against a team as potent as the Lightning.

Advanced stats are from Natural Stat Trick. 

Next: Five Reasons This Series Vs Tampa Bay Isn't Over

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