Feb
21

Despite offseason promise, Alain Vigneault still hesitant to rest Dan Girardi

February 21, 2017, by
dan girardi

Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

This offseason, head coach Alain Vigneault said the plan was to get defenseman Dan Girardi some rest from time to time. The idea made sense, as Girardi played most of last season with a fractured kneecap, and was just downright awful. This was on top of his declining play becoming the focal point among fans. After all, keeping Girardi fresh is the best way to get the best hockey out of him as he ages.

However through this point of the season, Girardi has been a healthy scratch for rest just once. It has showed in his on-ice performance, as he simply can’t keep up with the opposition’s top skaters. But that hasn’t stopped AV from dressing him nightly. He was asked about this after practice on Saturday, and his answer clued us into what his approach will be going forward.

Right now points are so important that I am really focused on that one game at a time. Our schedule has been pretty good lately, moving forward the schedule does get more challenging and we have five back to backs in March, one coming up, eight games in 13 nights. It is something that depending where I feel his energy level is and the rest of the group it is something that might consider. You have to go with what your best lineup is, it’s such a competitive league and we will see how it goes.

That last sentence is very telling. AV wants to go with what he thinks is his best lineup every night, regardless of the bigger picture of keeping his guys fresh. Long story short, AV isn’t resting Girardi any time soon.

We can spend all day talking about how Girardi should or shouldn’t be in the lineup. That’s not really the point though, is it? The point is that AV has altered his approach to this season –something he’s well within his right to do– and it could be to the detriment of future success of the team.

There are two pieces at play here. The first is keeping Girardi fresh. He got off to a somewhat decent start this year, but as the season continued he continued to break down. Fatigue is clearly a factor. The other is keeping Adam Clendening in game readiness, an insurance policy in case he is forced into more steady playing time.

When AV made the announcement he was going to keep his veterans rested, we were all on board. This altered approach is a little puzzling, given the extremely poor play from Girardi (and Kevin Klein) and the seemingly viable option in the press box. I still get the feeling a move is coming, but what does it matter if AV sticks to his guys?

"Despite offseason promise, Alain Vigneault still hesitant to rest Dan Girardi", 3 out of 5 based on 9 ratings.
Categories : Players

55 comments

  1. pas44 says:

    and here I thought the only dam that was about to breaks wide open was in California…

    here comes the flood baby!

    nice post…

  2. DAVID k says:

    AV continues to treat the season as a sprint to the finish line which is why he can’t win the cup for veterans. He can only go so far until they all break down which is the main reason he has never won the cup. He is a decent coach but will never be a cup winner. He wants to win the President’s trophy every year (even though we know he won’t this year) He does not see the big picture which is winning the cup.

    • Jon says:

      I have to think AV knows the presidents trophy is out of reach by now.

      • sherrane says:

        It isn’t. The Rangers are 8 points behind Washington and 7 behind Minnesota with 24 games left. If the Rangers go on a 16-game winning streak as Columbus did (who are 21-16-5 in the other games they’ve played), they win the President’s Trophy and don’t likely win the cup.

        I’m not someone who thinks AV isn’t a top notch coach, but he does have his fault. While he rolls out four lines and three defense pairings as well as any other coach in the league, he needs to get better at giving guys rest.

        “Right now points are so important that I am really focused on that one game at a time.”

        I think he needs to be more of a “big picture guy”. It would be a near total collapse for the Rangers to miss the playoffs. Keep guys fresh by getting them some playing time and giving the some rest.

        “Our schedule has been pretty good lately…”

        I agree and this is why Girardi playing tonight isn’t an issue. There is a single back-to-back in February (25th & 26th) and only three from January 15th (January 22 & 23) through the first week of March (6 & 7 in Tampa and Miami).

        “…moving forward the schedule does get more challenging and we have five back to backs in March, one coming up, eight games in 13 nights.”

        I would be willing to wager that Girardi, Staal, and Klein will all play in at least seven of those eight in 13 (Feb 25 — March 9) if the entire blueline is healthy.

        • kris says:

          Looking at the 4 teams ahead of the us in the league standings, it paints an interesting picture. All teams have played 58 games, the Caps and Minnesota have 1 more win then us, and we have 1 more win then Columbus and 2 over Pitt. Minny has 3 shootout wins, NYR, Pitt, BJs have 2, Caps 1. The difference between the Rangers and the 4 teams ahead of them are the loser points. They have 1, the Caps 7, Pitt 8, Columbus 5, and Minnesota 6.

  3. Reenavipul says:

    Whip that horse straight into the glue factory, AV.

    THE

    GOAL

    IS

    THE

    CUP

  4. Jon says:

    I thought Klein has been playing a little better of late. Maybe he was hurt early on in the season but is feeling a bit better of late.

  5. Leatherneck says:

    Yes Girardi needs rest, but he is not as bad as people make him out to be. Kevin Klein has vastly improved the last 5 games. The real ball and chain on the ankle is Marc Staal. Someone said, I believe Walt that he brings nothing to the plate. I agree with that assessment.
    After his eye injury he plays scared. That goal against the Is,lsles was pathetic. He got bumped off of the puck by a smurf. This was not an abnormality.
    Girardi needed to play more closer to the goal side than the board side to eliminate some of those angles he was getting beat on. He did that and has been much better. No doubt he has lost a step however he is not the worst defender in the league as some claim. The rest will do him good and he should rest

    • Chris F says:

      I concur. Girardi clearly can get beat from time to time, but never for lack of effort, and he often makes simple, solid plays.

      Staal, while he has the potential to be far better than Girardi on any given night, way too frequently lacks the effort.

      I’d take Girardi any night over Staal these days.

  6. Bloomer says:

    I would like to see more Clendening in the lineup. He is not going to work out the kinks in his game, sitting in the press box. Whereas giving Girardi and Klein a maintenance day off here and there, would likely help their game. The Rangers have a taxing schedule from now to the end of the season. Good bench management will keep the roster fresh.

    • Walt says:

      after playing Girardi with a broken knee cap, what makes anyone think AV knows anything about bench management ……..just thinking out loud?????

  7. Walt says:

    This thread came at the most convenient time for me, because just yesterday I stated, over and over according to some, how AV won’t sit Dan. I’ve been wrong on many things, but on this I can hang my hat on. AV will never take us to the promised land playing the retreads like Danny boy, mark my words.

    Now let the critics begin slamming me !!!!!!!!!!

  8. Spozo says:

    Before the season started there were plenty of naysayers saying this team wouldn’t even make the playoffs. Now the argument has turned to why they won’t win the cup.

    Sounds like they are doing something right.

  9. Al Dugan says:

    I’m calling click bait on this one. Sorry guys. This adds nothing to the discussion.

  10. Peter says:

    Perhaps Gorton will make a minor deal that will bring a cheap defender that AV will trust more than Clendening and he’ll feel more comfortable resting Danny G. AV knows that Dan needs rest at times but wants to win games. So, the goal should be to make it possible to do both.

    It is obvious that Girardi is going to play the remainder of the season, so maybe they can at least give him a little time off during the upcoming weeks when the schedule gets crowded.

    The Rangers are playing well. The trick now is to stay healthy and to perfect the team’s play going into the playoffs.

    • kris says:

      Peter,
      I think its wishful thinking that Gorton will bring in a cheap defender that AV will trust enough to rest one of the regulars. Its obvious he doesnt trust Clendening and the nail in the coffin was a few weeks back when Staal was puking before the game and needed an IV treatment in between periods. The only way, I see a 7th defenderbeing traded here and getting to play to rest a regular, is if that player has played for AV in the past. Otherwise AV will not have the trust in him and there isnt many games left for him to earn that trust.

      • Peter says:

        You are likely correct. However, if Gorton picks someone up I imagine that there may be some pressure on AV to use him, which might get the guy in some games.

        Wishful thinking? Probably! 😀

        • Walt says:

          That may run counter to Gorton’s style. He lets the coaching staff do as they see fit, and he rewarded AV with an extension, so I wouldn’t bet on him pressuring AV at all !!!!

  11. Ray says:

    The real oddity is AV’s contention that points are so important right now. The Rangers have a huge cushion over the second wild card team and are much better off if they don’t move into third place. So, no, points are not important; too many is even bad.

    Incidentally, this is an AV weakness. Playoff readiness should come before positioning. I vaguely remember a coach twenty or so years ago lamenting making a push to win the President’s Trophy and then faltering in the playoffs.

    • DAVID k says:

      that is AV in a nutshell.

    • JoeS. says:

      Wow, this is hard to take. Are you seriously advocating throwing games. Why don’t we just dump games next year and go for the lottery pick. I’m sorry, maybe it is cause I’m older, but I think you play every game to win. Is there any other way? I don’t want to root for nor watch a team that is looking for the right positioning. Ray, very sorry but that is a sad comment to me. Maybe that’s the problem, people don’t root for teams as much, but for individuals. Maybe fantasy created that! I don’t know! This comment just rubs me in all the wrong ways!

      • Ray says:

        You are misunderstanding. It isn’t a question of deciding between throwing tonight’s game and making every possible effort to win it. The correct course of action is almost always something in between. If you really want to win, why not play McDonagh 30 minutes. For a coach like Tortorella, going all out to win means not playing your fourth line at all. Yes, you want to win today, but you also want to have a team that will win tomorrow. That means pacing your players and it also means experimenting to find combinations that work better. Sometimes it means giving playing time to someone who isn’t ready in the hope that he will contribute in later games.

        The original point of this thread concerned Girardi. AV is willing to sacrifice having a well-rested Girardi in the postseason in order to win games today. He is willing to make a huge sacrifice, perhaps even throw away the Cup, to get as many points as possible now — and I was simply observing that the Rangers would actually be better off without the points – and so what he is doing is super dumb.

        Likewise, you don’t overwork Lundqvist, rest other banged up players, and keep your reserves engaged, maybe even experiment with systems.

        But of course, you always want the six guys on the ice to be trying to win. You can’t unlearn lack of effort.

        • JoeS. says:

          OK I respect your opinion, Ray. I just disagree. I want a coach and a team that wants to win every night, right through a championship! It’s been done before! AV has gotten his teams to the finals, indeed a game 7. Are you telling me, if he rested guys more, they would have won game 7? He’s been there before. How many 8th seeded teams have won the Cup. There have been a few, but a very low percentage. The mindset should be to win every game.

          • Reenavipul says:

            Do you want a president’s trophy or the Stanley Cup?

            Both is not a valid answer.

  12. Stevesse says:

    What a canard. This has been discussed by you and others ad infinitum. It adds nothing to whether or not the Rangers can win the cup. Less than 30% of the last 15 President Cup winners have won. Last year, the Capitals, with a better defense than ours lost to the eventual champs. What is necessary to win is great team play, great goaltending(remember Boston’s last cup), and luck. Nobody can tell me that the Rangers wouldn’t have won the cup if Dustin Brown’s bs non call didn’t change the outcome against the Kings. We still have a shot if we get the first two and hope for the third.

  13. Rangers_Underscore says:

    Now he wants to put the best lineup in? Did he think that when he sat Butch? He is such a lair. Why does he lie? He does not need to, no one will challenge him while he shoots him self and the team in the foot. Math is his worst enemy as is truth.

  14. joe K says:

    Girardi has played well an almost every Ranger defensemen has been out of the lineup at times this season. What is your problem Dave.?? This is not baseball where you give guys days off. We are having a good season an I think the coach an coaching staff know more then we do in handling the players.

  15. paulronty says:

    Same old, same old from AV. He didn’t rest the ancient Dan Boyle last year, when he said he would, so he’s not going to rest Girardi or Klein because he has ZERO confidence in Clendo. All we need is one injury on the D & we are done because there is no depth to speak of on the farm. Keep your fingers crossed!

    • Ray says:

      I don’t think ZERO confidence is right. I think he has confidence in Clendo, just more in the other guys — and he seems to always play the guys he has the most confidence in. The reason Clendo is still here is that AV has more confidence in him than in McIlrath.

  16. 43 says:

    I hope Gorton finds a way to trade Girardi, not because I think he’s pitiful, but because I’m fed up with having to read post after post about how awful all of you think he is.

    • Walt says:

      So may I ask, do you think he is great????? Just asking………

      • 43 says:

        I have a lot of respect for G. I guess you could say I appreciate what he’s done for this franchise. He’s obviously not the player he once was and he does have his fair share of costly mistakes in big games on his resume, but unlike most people on here, I do not think he sucks. He’s no longer a great player, sure. But he’s not a liability, either.

  17. joe719 says:

    Those advocating resting Girardi, are under the misguided impression, IMO, that when the Playoffs come around, the added time off will benefit him. Now, why that may be true with some of the more gifted players around the League, I don’t think it would make much of a difference with the G man. After all—he is Dan Girardi—to quote Walt—- one 1/2 of the “pylon twins.” There isn’t enough time off in the world that is going to change that. (;

    It may even hurt him. He’s used to playing a lot. Who knows if his game might deteriorate even more from the rest. Now, if they could get some sort of reliable minutes grabber at the deadline that could reliably spell him in the coach’s eye, then I’m on board with that. But just to rest him now, when he actually has been playing pretty well, IMO, might not be the best thing.

    • Reenavipul says:

      The 2nd Joe that doesn’t know physiology.

      Plenty of studies that show that even under 20 players in multiple sports underperform even with a day off in between games. Imagine how much a 30 yr old does on that schedule, let alone a B2B?

      If they need to give him a new routine for the regular season and another one for the playoffs, fine. The point is IT’S THE CUP THAT MATTERS, and the time to ride your whip hand is in April, May and June, not December, January and February.

      They are locked into a playoff spot, have older players in front, back & in goal; take advantage of it and learn more about your team depth and don’t burn the vets out.

      Fat chance of that happening.

      • Walt says:

        SPOT ON !!!!!!!!!!!!

        • joe719 says:

          Totally missed the point!!!! No amount of rest, at this stage of his long, battered career is going to matter to a player like Girardi. You think sitting him down a game here, and a game there during the Season, makes any difference when he has to play a complete 7 game series(maybe more than 1?) in the Playoffs? You really believe he will channel his restful time in the pressbox in Feb. when he is dog-tired entering the 3rd OT period of a 6th game of a Series?

          I think we are grasping at straws trying to find ways to compensate for the inevitable Girardi screwup.

          All AV has to do is announce that he will rest his vets down the stretch—and when they start losing—the haters will point to him. Especially when he has no REAL dependable replacements. Like I said, if they can find a reliable minutes grabber to spell Girardi, I’m all for it. Failing that, until they get down to the very end of the Season, expect to see Girardi out there.

          • Reenavipul says:

            Again, in the most polite of terms, you don’t know what you’re writing about when it comes to physiology.

            If you rotated Girardi, Klein & Clendening where 4 played every night, you would be giving 5 & 8 optimal recovery time and raise the performance of all RD to maximize points. This is excercise science 101.

            THEN, come playoffs you you have enough bodies ready, mentally and physically for the war of attrition that is the Stanley Cup.

            • joe719 says:

              The Season is just about over. The chance to give Girardi the kind of rest that would benefit him has passed(unless you’re talking about giving him a week or so away from the rink)—-ain’t gonna’ happen!

              Please stop trying to impress yourself with home grown physiology theories. Facts are facts. The guy is a veteran who has been through the wars. A game off now will mean nothing come playoff time. The time for that kind of treatment has passed. For better or worse, AV has decided that this team can’t afford to Not have him in the lineup. Now, that might be an indictment of the state of the defense on this team—but those are the facts. Anything else is just supposition.

            • Reenavipul says:

              AGAIN, you don’t know what you’re talking about when it comes, to physiology, recovery rates or apparently much else.

              It’s not playing the game that hurts them, it’s the recovery that gets you as you get older and the diminishing returns when you don’t get that recovery time.

              Players don’t need a week off, they need two days that stretches out to 3 as one gets older. You can get away with one, but then you can’t really practice.

              Because the tempo that is played in today’s game; any time a player gets caught out on an overly long shift anaerobic energy consumption begins, then you get lactic acid in the muscles, then you get sore.

              When you get sore like that, you need more recovery time.

              The manager’s job is manage the team, manage the opponent & manage the schedule TO WIN THE CUP. Everything else is tiddlywinks.

              KthxBye!

              • joe719 says:

                Its ALL subjective. Just because you believe it, doesn’t make it so! The time for rest, for a vet like Girardi, has long since past. It ain’t gonna help him at this stage.

      • paulronty says:

        You got it!!

  18. Larry says:

    To me, AV is a coach who always prefer a Presidents’ Trophy and lost in the 2nd round of the playoffs than actually win the Cup playing as a Wild Card team.
    .

    • Larry says:

      …should be: than actually have a chance to win the Cup playing as a Wild Card team.

      Right now If you give AV a choice of No.1 Wild card team or No.2 Seed in Metro…AV would choose No.2 Seed without any hesitance.
      .

      • Walt says:

        Just wondering out loud, but could there be incentives in his contract to get more points. We are in a strong position, and will make the play offs, so why the urgency for the points. I could be off base big time, but since many are asking what’s pushing this coach to accumulate points, maybe this the answer??????????????????

        • Larry says:

          Coaches are judged and paid based on wins and losses in the regular seasons…across all sports.
          .

  19. Larry says:

    I believe CBJ as a tired team will play very well after their spring break, and Torts will be diligent and do a very good job to push them compete for the Presidents’ Trophy.
    .