Dan Girardi is still an integral part of the Rangers

Girardi blocks a shot (Getty)

Girardi blocks a shot (Getty)

Let’s not pretend that Dan Girardi has been very good this season. Everyone can see it with their eyes that he’s a step behind and making some bad decisions out there. Throughout any NHL career, players going through bad stretches (used to be known as slumps before fancy stats rolled around). And right now, Girardi is going through a really hard time.

The numbers don’t lie either, no matter how you interpret them or even believe in them. When it comes to his corsi numbers, they’ve been declining since 2013-14 (CF%: 48.3, 46 to 39.2 this year). Simply put other teams are generating more shots when he’s out there. I don’t want to get into an advanced stats debate because I fully don’t understand how all the different flavors and variations work. However, even his traditional numbers are starting to tell a story of him slowing down.

Dan+Girardi+Winnipeg+Jets+v+New+York+Rangers+N6CzwsHDtLElDan Girardi was a workhorse and a warrior. For the last 8 plus seasons, he has put his body in harm’s way time and time again. There is no doubt that it’s starting to take its toll on him physically (that helps answer the slowing down part). This season he is averaging 20:57 of ice time, which is less than the year before (22:42) and the year before that (23:07). Matter of fact his time on ice has declined every season since 2011-12.

Now, Alain Vigneault has demoted Girardi from the top pairing with Ryan McDonagh and put Kevin Klein in his place. Vigneault didn’t sugarcoat it either by saying that “Kevin was playing so much better than Danny that I made the switch.” AV continued by saying, “For some reason, Danny’s overall game, especially with the puck, has not been as efficient as in the past.”

That’s pretty harsh criticism, but AV also pointed out that Girardi is still recovering from an MCL sprain and a bad ankle that required surgery this summer. Still, AV also said that it’s not an excuse but it clearly is. By even making that statement, AV is supplying a reason for why Girardi may be struggling this season (for the record, he is also a plus 2 on the year).

While Girardi hasn’t been up to par, AV also has no intention of scratching one of the leaders on his team. You see, that’s something all these metrics will fail to capture time and time again…intangibles. The fact that even when he’s hurt he plays and no matter how dangerous the shooter, he will lay his body in front of it to block a shot. Simply put, he inspires and elevates every player on the team. From his actions on ice to what he says in the locker-room, Dan Girardi is still a vital cog in the machine that makes the New York Rangers run.

1,541 Hits and 1339 Blocked Shots. These are some important numbers that advanced stats truly don’t care for because they speak to grit, toughness and heart. However each one of those bone jarring hits and body bruising block shots in his career means something. They mean something to the coach and more importantly to each and every player in the room.

Dan Girardi is struggling right now, but as his body continues to recover he will get better. Is he the 25 minute a game Terminator from 4-5 years ago? Absolutely not. His body is worn down but his heart has not. You’ll see it tonight against Philadelphia. He will play between 18-20 minutes and do what he always does, take the body and block bullets. It’s who he is and he’s a huge part of who the Rangers are.

 

Girardi careers Hits/Blocks (SportingCharts)

Girardi careers Hits/Blocks (SportingCharts)