SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 30: Dan Girardi #5 of the New York Rangers warms up prior to the game against the Florida Panthers on December 30, 2011 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
In the New York Rangers' victory over the Florida Panthers last night, Dan Girardi only accumulated 24:48 worth of ice time. When Marc Staal went down with an injury before the season started John Tortorella made Girardi the No. 1 defenseman on the team. Girardi answered the call brilliantly, and has been one of the driving forces for the Rangers' success this year.
Girardi has averaged over 27 minutes of ice time this year, and that number has only crept away from 30 minutes recently.
John Tortorella has been able to do that by trusting players like Michael Del Zotto and Anton Stralman with more minutes on the ice. Del Zotto is currently averaging 23 minutes a game while Stralman's ice time has skyrocketed up to 19 minutes a night.
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This has also allowed Tortorella to let Staal progress slowly, as planned. Staal hasn't played more than 13 minutes in either of his two games this season, and it's highly unlikely he will eclipse that mark tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Once Staal gets back on even footing, both he and Girardi can carry the load at about 25 minutes a night. At the pace Girardi was going, he wasn't going to last to the postseason. Thankfully, however, Tortorella has options to keep Girardi's ice time down.
Hopefully that continues this season.