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Dan Girardi’s absence heightens need for defensive depth

February 8, 2013, by
Girardi's injury really heightens the depth hole.

Girardi’s injury really heightens the depth hole.

With Dan Girardi out for his second straight game, the Rangers deployed the bottom pairing of Steve Eminger and Matt Gilroy against the Islanders. Against the Devils, it was Gilroy paired with Stu Bickel. Suffice it to say, that bottom pairing not only isn’t scaring people, it’s a legitimate concern and liability on the ice. Torts knows this, and it’s a reason why the Bickel/Eminger duo only received three and five minutes each in their respective games. Gilroy played a minimum of ten minutes.

While it’s clear that Gilroy has cemented himself as a bottom pairing defenseman for the time being, it’s equally clear that the Rangers have no depth on the blue line. They are rolling with five defensemen, and another injury would cripple the club. Considering how much Torts leans on his top four guys, another injury isn’t exactly out of the question.

Even when Girardi returns, the Rangers are left with the scenario of a questionable Gilroy as the sixth man, with the unreliable Bickel/Eminger duo waiting in the wings. Successful teams are able to run all six defensemen with no worries, and have a 7th and 8th guy ready to step in for 8-10 minutes per game on a moment’s notice. Right now, the Rangers have five guys they rely on, one guy who’s playing well, and two guys who do not have the coach’s trust. That’s not a winning formula.

With Slats’ recent trade for Darroll Powe, it’s clear the organization knows about their top-heavy team. It’s still early in the season, so the trade market might not be what it is later. The organization might not be able to make a move until closer to the deadline, but they will definitely make a move to attempt to shore this up.

The good thing that comes out of this is the re-emergence of Anton Stralman as a true minute-eating defenseman. Stralman has played at least 23 minutes in the past two games while Danny G. has been out, including almost 27 minutes last night. The fact that Stralman can play those minutes and be a strong presence on the ice is a relaxing feeling, and at least alleviates the depth issue a bit when the Rangers are fully healthy.

Categories : Defense


  1. Hatrick Swayze says:

    “The good thing that comes out of this is the re-emergence of Anton Stralman as a true minute-eating defenseman.”

    Amen. I thought I was the only one standing up for this guy. Bottomline is the guy can play and is more than adequate for a bottom pairing defenseman. It is also nice that he is a bit more offensively gifted than many of our other blueliners (save Del Zotto and McDonagh), which should help in generating offense from the back end.

  2. Walt says:

    Last years play-offs showed us how important Stralman is to this team. The truth be known, we are only 1 sound d-man short, and by this time next year, we could be seeing McIlrath playing on the bottom pairing.

    I hope that they don’t make any moves out of desperation, we could play with what we have. It’s a damn shame that Sauer is out long term, maybe for good.

    • Michael says:

      No kidding…a healthy Sauer would totally alter the dynamic of this team…doesnt look like he will ever play again.

  3. rickyrants13 says:

    The Rangers may have lost out with Sauer. But they can still do allright If McIlrath can bounce back and if they can still get something out of Noreau and or Ceresnak.

    As you all know we wont be seeing Brady Skjei anytime soon.