Defenseman Dan Girardi, who just received a long term contract with the New York Rangers in the middle of this season, has had an awful postseason that has now continued into the Stanley Cup Final.
Throughout the playoffs, Girardi has been noticeably slow, and is making ill-advised decisions and failing to clear the Rangers’ defensive zone, keeping the play alive for the opposition. Girardi’s struggles were no more evident and clearer than in overtime in Game 1 vs. the Los Angeles Kings.
Facing a relentless Kings forecheck in overtime, Girardi would proceed to fall down and from his knees to try to clear the puck out of the Rangers’ defensive zone. He failed, and a couple of seconds later, the puck was in the back of the Rangers’ net, giving the Kings a 3-2 Game 1 overtime win, making Girardi the goat of the game.
Girardi’s defense partner Ryan McDonagh may have been able to cover for Girardi’s mistakes in the first three rounds against Eastern Conference teams. Against a Western Conference team like the Kings, who are more offensively powerful than any team the Rangers have faced thus far this postseason, the slow-moving Girardi will be fully exposed.
All season long, Girardi has had problems adjusting to head coach Alain Vigneault‘s system and now, when the Rangers need Girardi to step up the most and rise to the challenge, he is consistently letting the Rangers down.