The 2017 season may have been Dan Girardi’s last as a member of the New York Rangers organization. Although it had been a turbulent few seasons watching his decline, Girardi continued to be a fan and coach favorite. Blue Line Station reviews the season that could be an end of an era for Dan Girardi.
Dan Girardi’s tenure as a member of the New York Rangers’ defensive corps seems to be coming to an end. His 2017 season reaffirmed what many had believed for several seasons prior, he’s simply lost a step. Or two.
To no fault other than his grit and heart, Girardi was continually placed against some of the NHL’s top forwards. Head coach Alain Vigneault chose to ignore the warning signs of an aging, injured defenseman’s decline and Girardi faltered because of it.
In 2017, Dan Girardi played just 63 games, missing time due to lingering ankle and foot injuries. His shortened season resulted in his worst offensive production since the lockout season of 2012-13. Girardi produced 14 points, including four goals.
Amazingly enough, Girardi continued his trend of leading the Rangers in blocked shots with 166. He also was in the team’s top five in hits despite missing a good portion of the season to injury. However, it was never his ability to put his body on the line that was questioned.
Where Girardi’s decline was seen the most was when pressured inside his offensive zone. In a league that requires quick and precise decision making, Girardi lacked the ability to do both. The result was a nightmare for Rangers’ goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
The “fancy stats” reflect a lot of the same as it pertains to Girardi. He was among the worst players in carrying possession for the Rangers. His 44 Corsi For % was second worst on the team, behind the opportunity dependent Kevin Hayes.
While Dan Girardi lacked for the majority of the regular season, he did his best to bring his A game when the playoffs rolled around. Unfortunately his continually bad possession (45.4CF%) followed him to the playoffs, but Girardi showed flashes of his old self clearing the crease for his longtime goaltender.
Girardi did continue to play top minutes throughout the playoffs, especially as Vigneault chose to “play his guys” down the stretch. He was second on the team, behind Ryan McDonagh, averaging just over 22 minutes per game. While he may not have been the team’s MVP for the playoffs, he was certainly better than Marc Staal and Nick Holden.
If this is in fact Dan Giradi’s final hoorah with the New York Rangers, we should hope that he is remembered for the warrior that he was. The shell of the former Norris candidate that was forced into scenarios by his head coach is not a reflection of the defenseman he once was.
However, the game of hockey is trending in a different direction, and Girardi is losing more than just as step in today’s NHL. Perhaps another year in a new role would do Girardi good, but his days as a top-pairing defenseman are numbered.