By Jay Travers
The New York Rangers are struggling to win games and fans are starting to get angry, or already are. Out of all the players receiving hate, and there is a lot, Dan Girardi may be the most common.
Before it continues, many need to realize it’s not totally not the right thing to feel. Girardi deserves a bit of slack.
The 31-year old veteran of the blueline has been known to be a shut-down defender in his zone. Whether it is blocking a shot or taking a big hit, Girardi will be there to do it and will do it completely.
But this season has not been his year by a long stretch, and this is what’s so worrisome to so many of Rangerstown.
If you look at his numbers, you can tell Girardi is a defensive-minded defenseman. His zone comes first. From his rookie year on he’s played a solid defensive game with a propensity to block a ridiculous amount of shots.
He’s also missed only three games in 10 seasons in the NHL, which is the reason why he deserves some slack.
It is very frustrating to see a team struggle, especially one who has been to the Stanley Cup Final once and Conference Final three times within the last five years. But think of which players have been a constant on those teams: One is Dan Girardi.
Girardi does not need to put up massive offensive numbers because that is not his job. What he does need is rest, which is why Alain Vigneault should demote him to the second pairing with Staal or Boyle and move either one of those up (preferably Boyle).
But Girardi should not see it as a bad thing, rather a position where he can keep up with his team. He has already shown enough toughness and grit by coming back with a swollen and cracked knee cap.
The last time Girardi was put to the second pairing for a game the next few he was flying around, played better defense and even scored a few goals and assists.
If Girardi can get rest and still play, then there is nothing better than that. The veteran needs to get back into the game quickly and play great, he is needed on the blueline.