[Ed. note: As part of the build-up to the first round playoff series between the Capitals and the Rangers, Japers' Rink will be looking at some of the important but lesser-known players on the Rangers and how they might impact the series.]
#5 / Defenseman / New York Rangers
Apr 29, 1984
Welland, Ont., Canada
Signed as free agent, July 2006
|Strengths||Has a fair amount of offensive ability, which makes him a strong candidate for regular duty on the power play. Also owns good size.|
|Weaknesses||Needs to use his 6-2 frame more to his advantage, since he tends to struggle against power forwards in front of the net.|
|Potential||Top four defenseman.|
Why you should know who he is - Girardi isn't the Rangers best offensive defenseman and he isn't the best defensive defenseman - and that's what makes him so important to the outcome of the series. With Marc Staal likely to bear the biggest burden among Rangers defensemen, it's how the Capitals secondary players play against Girardi, and hence how many good scoring chances the team generates against Henrik Lundqvist, that might dictate how much offensive success the Caps have.
How the Caps can stop him - While Girardi does a lot of things well, he's not a dominant player in any particular regard and can be beaten in the right situations by speed, power, or finesse. What the Capitals need to do is keep attacking Girardi in different ways and force him to employ all of his skills. If the Caps can do that, Girardi will break down sooner or later.