The Rangers need a seventh defensemen, and the last two games are definitive proof of this. In both games, players that we as fans have come to trust as defensive stalwarts have been playing shaky defense at best. Marc Staal and Dan Girardi have been fairly unspectacular this year, with the latter being downright terrible at points. We saw it last year with Girardi, as towards the end of the year, he has been prone to being beat to the puck. This year, teams are just attacking him and he has yet to adjust.
While Girardi has been consistently bad, Staal is prone to the epic turnover. He made a horrific turnover during the game against Anaheim, but Steve Valliquette bailed him out. He also made a pair of turnovers in the first period against the Devils last night, which eventually led to the Zach Parise goal in the first period.
As a matter of fact, the most consistent defensemen on the Rangers this year, in terms of defensive consistency, has been….wait for it….Wade Redden. That’s right Blueshirt Faithful, the most dependable defensman has been none other than the second (first?) of the albatross twins. He has been uncharacteristically solid in his own end, and conceding the offensive game to Michael Del Zotto. Sure, he isn’t paid to be just defensively solid, but I think we will take a non-liability.
On a team with two rookies (Del Zotto, Matt Gilroy), a downright terrible Michal Rozsival, and the stunningly consistent (but for how long?) Wade Redden, Staal and Girardi were expected to be anchors along the blue line and have been anything but that. Perhaps they have become too comfortable with their role on the team. Perhaps they are tired after an intense training camp. Perhaps teams have watched video and are exploiting their weaknesses.
No matter the case, a seventh defensemen will light a fire under the collective rear-ends of the defensive corps. If someone like Mathieu Dandenault, now with Hartford, winds up with the team, don’t you think that the current defensemen will have some pressure to perform? Competition is a very good thing, especially when someone is knocking on the door to play.
I would have preferred the Rangers go after Cory Murphy, but he was already assigned to the AHL. Instead, we have to count on Dandenault impressing in Hartford. Regardless of who it is (Corey Potter, Bobby Sanguinetti, and Michael Sauer are other possibilities that don’t have to pass through waivers), the Rangers need to apply the appropriate pressure to get the underachievers on their game.