clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Ryan McDonagh's Dan Girardi Problem

New, comments

The problem with Ryan McDonagh, right now, is that he's still playing with Dan Girardi.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan McDonagh is an American Olympian. He was the steal of the Scott Gomez trade-- if you want to torment a Habs fan, remind them that they could have had McDonagh on their defense along with PK Subban. He's 26, and he's on an immensely team-friendly contract. He's captain.

The problem with Ryan McDonagh, right now, is that he's still playing with Dan Girardi.

Girardi hasn't been good this season, whether you use advanced metrics or you go with the eye test. Our brains like to seize onto the big mistake, but the numbers back up the quality of his play. We remember turnovers like the one he recently gifted to Alex Ovechkin, but with Girardi on the ice, mistakes like that have become unfortunately common. They're bad. And yet Vigneault plays Girardi despite a cracked kneecap and a lacerated hand, sitting Dylan McIlrath and keeping Brady Skjei in the minors. Girardi gets power play time in addition to his place on the first pairing. He keeps playing and playing.

The following chart shows McDonagh's CF% (at even strength) with and without Girardi. All numbers come from stats.hockeyanalysis.com.

Player

EV TOI together

With McDonagh

McDonagh apart

Teammate apart

Dan Girardi

377:34

38.5

55.9

44.7

Kevin Klein

165:12

54.2

44.4

49.5

Marc Staal

66:49

53.4

46.1

45.6

Dan Boyle

51:04

54.5

45.9

46.1

Keith Yandle

34:27

62.1

45.9

51.7

Dylan McIlrath

15:08

64.5

46.2

52.7

In admittedly limited minutes, Ryan McDonagh is a positive possession player with the rest of the Rangers' defense. (He has a 100% Corsi with Brady Skjei, but it's been a grand total of 4 minutes and 2 seconds spent together, so-- probably not that significant, just hopeful).

McDonagh apart from Girardi is a positive possession player on what has so far been a poor possession team. McDonagh/Klein is a legitimate top pairing for the Rangers. Unfortunately, it only seems to be an option when McDonagh's regular partner is injured. Girardi is also better away from McDonagh, but he's spent the majority of that time with Keith Yandle, who boasts one of the highest CF% on the Rangers-- and still, Girardi is the only player apart from Jarret Stoll who isn't over 50% CF with Yandle.

This isn't the first season McDonagh has been better away from Girardi than with him. Historically, over the past five years and five iterations of Ranger teams, McDonagh has spent 4035:53 of his 5787:50 minutes on the ice with Dan Girardi. With him, the Rangers control 49.2% of shot attempts. When McDonagh and not-Girardi are playing, the Rangers control 53.3% of shot attempts.

Also, they've gotten worse.

Year

McDonagh/Girardi

McDonagh without

2015-16

38.5

55.9

2014-15

47.3

53.3

2013-14

50.0

57.1

2012-13

52.1

56.1

2011-12

49.2

48.3

Dan Girardi is, by all accounts, a popular and well-liked player in the dressing room. His effect on Ryan McDonagh's play has no bearing on him as a person. They do say that he is an anchor on that top pairing, and that McDonagh would be more effective with likely any other defenseman on the roster. Vigneault's tried McDonagh with Klein recently. It's prudent to keep on trying. Putting a 5.5 million dollar cap hit on the third pairing or in the press box might not be popular, but winning is.