When the Rangers signed Anton Stralman early this season, the immediate question was finding where he fit in on the roster. With the state of the Rangers defense, specifically the bottom pairing, in what can only be called a state of flux, the question now is when Stralman actually plays, and not if he actually plays.
Stralman may not bring much to the table defensively (1.2 DGVT, 1.5 GVT in 2010-2011), but he brings more to the bottom pairing than Steve Eminger (0.5 GVT in 2010-2011), who has struggled mightily this season. Eminger was great in a pinch for the Rangers last season when the club lost Michal Rozsival to injury for an extended period. He filled in admirably, and his play was a factor –along with Ryan McDonagh– in the decision to trade Rozsival.
Oh how I would love to have Rozsival on this blue line right now.
But Rozsival is gone, and Stralman is currently waiting to get in. He practiced on one of the powerplay units yesterday, manning a point position along with Brad Richards. John Tortorella has been saying that he doesn’t know when Stralman will get in, but if he’s on the powerplay in practice, it means he will be on the ice with the team very soon.
The Rangers simply cannot continue with Dan Girardi playing 75 minutes in a 60 minute game. At some point his legs are going to go on strike. Ryan McDonagh isn’t that far behind Girardi in ice time, and the Michael connection (Del Zotto, Sauer) is currently playing 23 minutes a game as well. There needs to be balance among the defensive pairings. Marc Staal isn’t coming back soon, so hopefully Stralman can provide some sort of short term stability.