Yes, you read that right.
All sports fans have highlight reels in their heads. Someone names a player, and your brain pulls up stock footage of their most memorable moment, good or bad. Sometimes it’s recent video; other times, our minds find skeletons that simply won’t stay in the closet — clips like the disastrous clear that led to end of the Rangers’ 2014 Stanley Cup run. I’m not going to embed it; it’s already embedded in all of us, forever.
Until Thursday night, that was my Dan Girardi moment. And frankly, he did very little to challenge it (although those synchronized snow angels gave a run for its money). Sometime around that fantastic hit on Andrew Shaw, however, I realized how few of my complaints about the Rangers in this series have involved Girardi.
I mean, look at this. It’s BEAUTIFUL. It didn’t take Girardi out of the play. And, hey, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. (UPDATE: Per Arpon Basu, Shaw has an upper-body injury, and will not skate tonight. Ahem. Yes. Well. )
Here's Andrew Shaw getting dropped in slo-motion pic.twitter.com/4IIif8Lddx— Shane O'Donnell (@shane1342o) April 21, 2017
And I thought I should give credit where credit is due, especially after all the, uh, NON-credit we’ve heaped on him, these past few years.
If you had told me this time last year that, in April 2017, a) Girardi would still be first pair and b) he would NOT be Defenseman I Most Want to Shoot Into the Sun, I would not have believed you. Even when giving him the benefit of the doubt, I worried that his age on top of what seem to be increasingly frequent injuries might make him vulnerable in a postseason series as nasty as this one is turning out to be. I’m not saying he should still be top 4, or that he’s necessarily a better choice than Adam Clendening (who is maybe a ghost?). But he’s doing the work:
Girardi has done a good job of letting Hank see low percentage shots on the PK. Boxing out the net presence instead of playing goalie.— Adam Herman (@AdamZHerman) April 21, 2017
If I was his coach I'd be livid. Completely let NYR off the hook here. Although good box out from Girardi. pic.twitter.com/b12kIxdbml— Adam Herman (@AdamZHerman) April 21, 2017
There should be stats here. Corsica is not loading. I was going to post this yesterday. I give up.
Plus, he was nowhere near what I sincerely hope was the worst defensive display of the postseason (oh Lord, I just realized that they slide the same way while pointed in opposite directions):
Staal and Holden playing defense like two guys playing Xbox for the first time and trying to figure out what each button does. pic.twitter.com/O6xUSYrYq9— Adam Herman (@AdamZHerman) April 21, 2017
Yes, I know. There are examples to the contrary. But last season at this time I had given up on excellence and was reduced to begging for competence. G may still be closer to the latter (I’m not sure we’re at the point of #GirardiIsActuallyGood), but he’s helping the Rangers win games. If that continues, we may just owe him, if not an apology, then at least a fresh assessment of what he might now offer to the team.
Oh, and Dan? If you’re reading? Please don’t make me regret this.
LET’S GO RANGERS!