New York Rangers, Mats Zuccarello
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As much as it hurts to say, Dan Girardi may have to leave the New York Rangers. There are too many parts of the veteran’s game that are worrisome.

By Jay Travers

There are so many ups and downs throughout a long 82-game season. Highs and lows come and go and the New York Rangers know this better than any team, but players inevitably have to go.

There was an article posted a few weeks ago explaining how Dan Girardi had to be given some slack. While it is true that the 31 year-old veteran of the blueline deserves it, his play has not been where it needs to be by far.

It is a situation almost like putting an animal out of its misery. Way too often Girardi can been seen staring into the rafters at Madison Square Garden just upset with himself, wondering what more he could have done.

It is almost as if he asked the Hockey-Gods, “why have you forsaken me?”

And it is a sad reality as well, because no one wants to see a guy like Girardi have to go because he cannot keep up with his team. The way he has played the past 11 seasons proves he’s nothing less than a warrior.

Several efforts have been made to help, including demoting him a defensive pairing or two. His injuries have been mounting as well, a cracked knee cap and a lacerated hand the other night, things are not looking up for No. 5 physically.

But rest your hearts, for there is a solution sitting down in the press box most nights or playing down in the minors; Brady Skjei and Dylan McIlrath.

McIlrath shows some serious promise as an elite NHL defender at only 23. Against the Islanders, he went toe-to-toe with tough guy Matt Martin. Five minute majors were not issued but the Rangers bench warned Martin to be weary of what he was messing with.

Yes, McIlrath did have a semi-bad play last night against Ovechkin, where the Great Eight pulled the puck towards him and then away from him, causing No. 6 to lose his stick and balance.

But those are plays that are very much a part of the game, and something that can be worked on in practice. McIlrath has proved that he was ready long before his big call up in December. tt was in training camp that defensive coach Ulf Samuelsson knew his time was now.

The very same could be said for Skjei as well, playing a very good defensive game whenever he took the ice. But if there was one to choose, McIlrath would be the safe bet.

No player, in all of sports, wants to retire knowing that he cannot play anymore because of his age. Defensemen after 30 slowly start to drop like flies in the NHL, but Dan Girardi’s time may not have come either.

It is very important to be optimistic, and Dan Girardi should really be given a fair chance to work on his game for the second half of the year. But coming to the trade deadline anything is possible, and for the right price, anyone can be shopped.

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I love watching sports, specifically teams in New York. I'll root for all New York teams, but the New York Rangers and hockey are my number one. I am an avid hockey fan and enjoy expressing my opinion on the Blueshirts, when they are playing good and bad.