For the past two seasons, Dan Girardi has arguably been the New York Rangers‘ best shutdown defenseman. An undrafted free agent, Girardi worked extremely hard to reach the Rangers’ top defensive unit. Many considered him a candidate for the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman in the 2011-12 season.
That was then, this is now. In a contract year for Girardi, he has shown zero indication that he deserves anywhere close to a max deal. What’s worse, his play has hurt the Rangers at times, and they need him to be at a Norris Trophy level again.
If not for Michael Del Zotto‘s awful play, one can argue that Girardi has been the Rangers’ worst defenseman this season. He has looked confused on the ice at times, he has struggled in picking up defensive assignments and has not been physical. He is a -4 this season with only four points. He is only averaging 21 minutes per game on the ice, down five from his career year two seasons ago.
As far as we know and as far as the team knows, he seems to be healthy. For Girardi to play like an enigma for the rest of the season when his team is counting on him to be one of the best is a disturbing thought.
Girardi’s defensive partner, Ryan McDonagh, recovered after an awful start to take his place as the Rangers’ best defenseman. Girardi has yet to play close to an All-Star level. The Rangers are a team that relies heavily on defense, especially its top shutdown pair, because of their lack of scoring prowess.
If Girardi can be the man he was in 2012, the Rangers will be even scarier to play against. Right now, he isn’t and he needs to find himself very soon. Not only is he costing himself a lot of money in free agency, but he is costing his team as well.