Dan Girardi Can’t Keep Playing 30 Minutes

November 7, 2011, by

Dan Girardi is playing 30 minutes a game, or close to it. Simply put, that cannot continue. We say it twice last night, and a few additional times last week, where Girardi would get a minor injury, miss a shift or two, and then come back. During those two shifts when he wasn’t out, many fans would hold their collective breaths, hoping and praying that Girardi wasn’t seriously hurt. Injuries happen, but exhaustion happens too, and having an ineffective Dan Girardi would cripple this club.

With Marc Staal out, Girardi has assumed control as the number one defenseman on this club, and he has done everything asked, and then some. The “and then some” there is in reference to him playing almost half the game on any given night. As well conditioned as he may be, fatigue becomes an issue at some point.

Right now, the Michael Connection (Sauer/Del Zotto) gets between 20-25 minutes per game, with Ryan McDonagh receiving about 27 minutes, and Girardi getting 30 minutes. Jeff Woywitka and Steve Eminger get eight minutes per game. I’m going to repeat that: Woywitka and Eminger get EIGHT minutes per game.

As we’ve grown used to coach John Tortorella’s usage of his workhorses, we have grown used to his alienating his bottom players. It’s a strategy that suited him well for his Cup winning Tampa Bay Lightning team, so it’s tough to argue with it. That said, there is a fatigue factor for Girardi. Very few players in this league are capable of playing 30 minutes a game. That number becomes far less when you eliminate all goalies from that list. I can only think of two players that can pull that off actually.

At what point does Girardi hit a wall? At what point does some nagging pain become an issue because of his fatigue? This is the road the Rangers may be heading down, especially considering how many shots Girardi blocks. It’s why a boxer gets so tired: taking abuse like that wears you out. Girardi is not going to ever complain, in fact he’s quoted saying that he doesn’t even notice the minutes he’s playing. Girardi is the consummate “do what it takes” player, and he’s the type of guy that guys go to war with. He doesn’t say much, but he doesn’t need to.

Of course, he can’t do much of that leading if he can’t move his legs because they feel like jelly. The third pairing of Woywitka-Eminger isn’t a pair that screams confidence, but giving them a few extra shifts couldn’t hurt. Two extra shifts for them at even strength gives them ten minutes per game, but more importantly puts Girardi under 30 minutes. It may not be ideal, considering Steve Eminger’s struggles, but it might be worth it in the long run. Girardi is now the most important Ranger suiting up nightly.

Categories : Analysis


  1. The Suit says:

    I think the addition of Anton Stralman can hopefully alleviate some of this. The kid can play over 20 mins a game, as he showed in Columbus.

    I think a third pairing of Stralman and Woywitka could be a viable combo moving forward.

    • Dave says:

      I’m ok with that. The follow up to that is when does Stralman actually start playing?

      • The Suit says:

        Good question. My guess is its going to take some time for him to learn the system as Columbus played a much more conservative game with their blueline.

        • Jurgenno88 says:

          here’s hoping he’s a solid addition and Eminger gets canned. He’s been abysmal this year.

  2. Leatherneckinlv says:

    Defense is not a problem the Rangers face, all have contributed in the absence of Staal, however I agree more minutes for the 3rd pairing is a very sound comment. Also you are 100% correct in your assessment of Girardi and what a devestating loss it would be for the Rangers to lose him or see him decline due to over use. Stralman will help however we also need Woywitka and Eminger to give us productive minutes for the continued success of the team. Eminger has not been terrible while paired with Woywitka and also had a very good game when Sauer was given a game misconduct. Everyone must do their part and so far they have. A high 5 to the entire team, top 6 on D, a 7-3-3 record and 5th in the East not to forget 4 points from Pittsburgh with 2 games still at hand.

  3. Walt says:

    Torts should break up the Emminger/Woywitka pair once, or twice a game, and put them with someone else in order to give the top four a breather. They are pros and can handle more time, maybe not PK, but playing them more against weaker teams to help cut down the time played by Dan, and the others for that matter! Your point is well taken, but the season is still young, and hopefully Staal will return in a reasonable time frame.

  4. the Dude says:

    Who says Girardi can’t play 30 minutes a night – you? What makes you an expert on Girardi’s conditioning? Just because it’s not common in the NHL what makes you an expert on Girardi’s personal ability? I could see if he’s done it before and failed – then you would have some facts, but seriously, a few minutes more than the majority of the best defensemen in the NHL – I don’t see it being a problem at all. More likely Girardi will have to sit because of an injury blocking a shot than tiredness. Why criticize the guy BEFORE he fails.

    • Dave says:

      Holy over reaction Batman. I’m not criticizing Girardi at all, in fact, I say an injury to him would cripple the team.

      Nowhere do I ever say he’s going to fail, I said that fatigue is a factor.

      Since you were a smartass to me, I’ll be one right back. Before you comment, make sure you read the damn post.

      • Fotiu is God says:

        Woe Dave: did you and The Nihilists steal The Dude’s rug: you know, the one that really tied the room together?

        Did you p**s in his White Russian?

        I do appreciate how riled up this poster got, though.

        Reminds me of the days of heading out to Uniondale in the late 80s, dropping a couple of tabs during the first period, then enjoying the hell out of what was a psychotically charged rivalry. Usually capped by Tie Domi or Kris King giving Mick Vukota what-for.

        Sorry for the trip out, old son. But yeah, we should be hyperaware of the potential for Dan Girardi to run down.

        That’s what prompts my call for a better pickup than Anton Stralman. Hopefully he provides a little more juice on the PP than Per Djoos.

        Nonetheless, despite a Teutonic-heavy name I don’t see The Swede D-man clearing the slot, or delivering retribution should The King get run.

        I realize we can’t fit big Zach in cap-wise, but perhaps Clayton Stoner of Minny–a quietly solid, Sauer-like beast–should Stralman, Woywitka or Ems falter…