Return Of Dan Girardi, Blue Line Anchor Man Means Everything To The Rangers

You could call Dan Girardi ‘Mr. Fix-It.’ The Rangers’ stalwart blue liner fills many needs and plugs many holes when he’s healthy and logging major minutes for the Blueshirts.

The Rangers sprung a leak last Tuesday when they missed Girardi’s influence against the Devils in Newark. It could have been a similar scenario for the Rangers on Sunday against an offensively-loaded and quick-skating Lightning team.

Thankfully for the Blueshirts, Girardi was able to return to the Rangers’ lineup against Tampa Bay after missing two consecutive games due to a “lower body injury.”

New York began the night by uncharacteristically giving up six odd-man rushes in the first period. Having Girardi on the ice and able to share his wisdom bench seemed to settle the Rangers down as the game went on. Over the remaining two periods, the Rangers limited Lightning playmakers Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier to few clear-cut opportunities.

The Rangers went into full shutdown mode in the third period as they only allowed Tampa Bay 4 shots on net for the final 20 minutes of play. I could imagine the Rangers executing to this kind of perfection against the offensively-gifted lighting without Girardi out there on the ice.

After the game, Rangers’ head coach John Tortorella underlined Girardi’s importance as a minutes-eater and shutdown defenseman.

“When he comes back into the lineup after losing two games (to injury), it puts the minutes where they should be with some of our other guys,” Tortorella explained. “We all know what Danny is. He’s such an important part, especially when you play against a team like that with some good offensive people. He came right back and played really well tonight.

Fellow defenseman Marc Staal understands the consistent defensive zone play that Girardi brings every time the Rangers take the ice and the heavy workload he shoulders.

“He’s Mr. Consistency,” Staal stated. “He’s either good – or great every night. I think he didn’t miss a beat and looked solid.”

Having a healthy Girardi available to take on large minutes and playing in all situations rather than having him scratched or “banged up” is a night and day kind of difference for the Blueshirts.

“He’s so consistent out there, I think that’s the biggest thing,” Rangers’ captain Ryan Callahan explained. “You can always rely on him in all situations. When he’s back there, he logs a lot minutes for us and is out there in key situations.”

The Rangers couldn’t have asked for more from Girardi in his return as he was a +4, recorded two assists, two hits and blocked two shots to go along with the intangible qualities and steadying influence on the ice that cannot be found in the box score.

You can follow Sean on Twitter — @HartnettHockey.

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