by Patrick Hoffman on 11/28/11 at 10:00 AM ET
When talking about the top defensemen in the National Hockey League, members of the hockey media and fans alike always point out the most obvious names, and with good reason.
We usually talk about guys like Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit Red Wings), Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks), Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings), Kris Letang (Pittsburgh Penguins), Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins), Shea Weber (Nashville Predators), Dion Phaneuf (Toronto Maple Leafs) and so on and forth. Again, it is with good reason.
One name that does not come up but should is New York Rangers’ defenseman Daniel Girardi. For someone who went undrafted, Girardi has turned out to be one of the best defenseman in the NHL today.
In his fifth NHL season, Girardi is showing that he is one of the game’s most reliable blue liners. He is first in the league when it comes to ice time as he is averages 27:49 minutes of ice time.
With All-Star defenseman Marc Staal still out of the lineup, Girardi has stepped up for the Blueshirts in every situation whether it is even strength, power play or the penalty kill. Time and time again he is matched up against the other team’s best players as well as at the end of the game if the score is close.
Girardi has also been supplying some offense this season. He has 11 points on 3 goals and 8 assists and has shown that he can find the open man with a great outlet pass while also showing that he is not afraid to put the puck on net.
Most importantly, Girardi is terrific in his own end. Girardi blocks a ton of shots, breaks up a lot of passes and knows how to move the puck in and out of his own end. Girardi’s + 8 shows that he is more than a solid defensive defenseman in the NHL.
Girardi may not score goals like Lidstrom, Keith or Letang and he may not put up high offensive point totals like those guys either but Girardi deserves some positive attention in the NHL. He does his job well as an NHL defenseman on a consistent basis and is someone that the Rangers have relied on ever since he joined the league in the 2006-07 season.
Dan Girardi should no longer be an unknown defensive entity in the NHL. He should simply be known as one of the top defenseman in the game today.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at email@example.com.