You have to like New York Rangers defenceman Dan Girardi, especially after his post-game interview Monday on Hockey Night in Canada.
While being praised by Elliotte Friedman for his performance in the Rangers’ 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils — and before taking his bow as one of the game’s three stars — Girardi ripped himself for the way he played in the first two periods.
He pointed out a couple of turnovers he made. He talked about missing a check. He mentioned that he almost banked a shot off a New Jersey player into his own net.
“I know I have to be better,” Girardi said. “And I was in the third.”
Yes, in the third, he was fantastic.
In between getting his face smashed into the glass by Steve Bernier, Girardi scored the game’s first goal and set up the second. He finished with five blocked shots in 25:11 of ice time, the most of any player on either team.
He could have just nodded and smiled and accepted the accolades, but instead he interrupted Friedman with the negatives to his night. Known for being hard on himself, Girardi shared his shortcomings with an audience that might not have been fully aware of them.
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist will no doubt steal most of the New York headlines for his second shutout of the playoffs, but Girardi was the best player in the Rangers’ series-opening victory.
Even if he would never admit it.
STARTS AND STOPS
Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean mentioned at his year-end address to the media that he is a firm believer in scoring, not defending, your way to the Stanley Cup. Apparently, Rangers coach John Tortorella and Devils coach Peter DeBoer don’t share the same philosophy. There will be people who tell you that Tortorella and DeBoer are geniuses, tacticians, masterminds. But the style they have their teams playing is just not good for hockey. Isn’t this game supposed to be a form of entertainment? … Girardi scored 10 goals for the Rangers in 2007-08, his first full NHL season. The second most he’s had as a pro is eight with the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack. But the shot-blocking specialist now has two in the playoffs — the first against the Senators in Game 7 of the opening round and one against the Devils in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final — and both have been huge … People say he messes up a lot, but I’ll still take CBC play-by-play announcer Bob Cole over Jim Hughson any day … Include Derek Stepan on the list of offensive players who are throwing themselves in front of shots these days … If the tweets are any indication, Bob Hartley appears to be one of the top coaching candidates for the Calgary Flames.
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM …
At $1.3-million a year, Ryan McDonagh is a great bargain. And who knew this before the playoffs began? … Wait, Stepan makes $875,000. Maybe Glen Sather, who is paying Wade Redden $6.5 million to play in the minors, isn’t a complete buffoon after all … Liked this stat from the TV guys: Devils goalie Martin Brodeur has played more playoff games than 14 NHL franchises … All that was missing was a Homer Simpson “doh!” when Patrick Elias deflected a puck into his own nose … How long can the Rangers defence hold up? Tortorella is basically using five, with Stu Bickel only seeing 5:13 of ice time Monday.
Don Cherry, while wearing one of his worst suit/tie combinations ever, was right when he said the linesman are out of control with the way they’re kicking players out of faceoff circles. His take on Tortorella, however, was wrong. Tortorella isn’t just rude when he’s “ticked” after a loss. He’s ignorant to the media after a morning skate as well … The Rangers outshot the Devils in the second period? Seemed like New Jersey’s Zach Parise had more shots than the Rangers on one shorthanded shift alone … Didn’t know Washington Capitals forward Alexander Semin was represented by the same agent — Mark Gandler — that Alexei Yashin has (had?) until just now. Why am I not surprised? … Brodeur sure didn’t look like a 40-year-old man the way he dove across the crease to rob Marc Staal in the third period … Actor Vince Vaughn was at Madison Square Garden for Game 1, which was nowhere near as good as The Wedding Crashers … Girardi is the seventh highest paid Ranger.
“Man, this MSG crowd really fancies that timed chant taken from Sens fans. Jeering Kovalchuk at 17-min mark” — @KatieStrangESPN
Katie Strang covers the Rangers, Islanders and Devils for ESPNNY.com.
“MTL is in process of touching base with potential head coach candidates incl Michel Therrien, Guy Carbonneau, Marc Crawford, Bob Hartley etc” — @TSNBobMcKenzie
Bob McKenzie, of course, is the best analyst on TSN.
“This is the kind of game where you get pumped for a commercial break.” — @Beezersun
Steve Buffery writes for the Toronto Sun.
“It’s Devils/Rangers games like this that have made me a 35-year-old w/ a 76-year-old man’s heart. OK, this and cigars and red meat.” — @wyshynski
Greg Wyshynski is the editor of Puck Daddy on Yahoo! Sports.