For the majority of his career, Dan Girardi has rarely had an off night. He has been the mainstay on the New York Rangers‘ defense since he was signed as an un-drafted free agent in 2005. His blue-collar style has made him a fan favorite in New York.
With all that being said, however, Girardi had a brutal series in the Stanley Cup Final against the Los Angeles Kings, and the Rangers need him to bounce back if they wish to make another deep playoff run.
Girardi, who just signed a six-year contract worth $33 million in February, is 30 years old and has taken a beating over the course of his NHL career. He was the poster boy of former coach John Tortorella‘s tough, defensive, shot-blocking system. The wear and tear of that style of play has shown on Girardi over the past two seasons, as he has clearly lost a step. He is still a great shutdown defenseman, but he is no longer the main cog on the Rangers’ blue-line, as Ryan McDonagh has clearly usurped him of that role.
All of the wear-and-tear on his body came to fruition last June when the Rangers took on the Kings in the Stanley Cup Final. Girardi was getting burnt all over the ice. At some points, it looked like a traffic cone would have done a better job defending. The Kings had a field day going around Girardi, clearly showing how he has lost a step. There haven’t been many times when Girardi has looked so lost out on the ice, but the Kings made him look like a third-pair defenseman in that series.
With all this being said, however, people should expect Girardi to bounce back. He has shown before in his career that he is a bounce-back type of player. He rarely plays two bad games in a row and that is what has made him such a great player over his career. He has been as consistent as they come, but he must show once again that he can bounce back, or else the Rangers will be in serious trouble this season.