Winning the Stanley Cup Final is as much about overcoming attrition as it is about overmatching your opponent. Often times, a team's ability to minimize fatigue and damage in Rounds 1-3 can determine the outcome of Round 4.
Tortortella's Fellas block a lot of shots, and Girardi and McDonagh lead the way in this regard. The duo combined to get hit by 387 pucks during the regular season -- 4.7 per game -- and they've picked up the pace since, averaging a combined 6.3 shot blocks this postseason. Girardi's blocked 54; McDonagh's blocked 53. The third-ranked postseason shot-blocker is Willie Mitchell, with 39.
This is a lot to put the body through.
But Girardi and McDonagh's issue goes beyond simply racking up the contusions. They also play nearly half the game. Both are up over 460 minutes already this postseason: Girardi has played 465:03; McDonagh has played 461:21, a full 30 minutes more than Marc Staal, the third-busiest postseason skater.
Let's put this into further perspective.
We'll estimate that they play nine more postseason games, say, by the Rangers winning out over the Devils in six and participating in a six-game Stanley Cup Final as well. Considering they both average just over 27 minutes a game, we can then add another 240 minutes to their current total ice time.
That's a very realistic 700 minutes each, and this would be unheard of.
Going back 15 years, only two players have played over 700 minutes in the postseason: Chris Pronger, who played 742:55 for the 2006 Edmonton Oilers (over 120 minutes more than Jaroslav Spacek, the next guy), and Nicklas Lidstrom, who played 717:01 for the 2002 Detroit Red Wings. This means the Red Wings are the only team in the last 15 years to win a Cup with a defenseman playing over 700 minutes.
But, if they get past the Devils, the Rangers are going to have to do it with two 700-minute blue liners. Worse, they'll likely be going up against one of the least-fatigued teams in modern NHL postseason history. The Kings look to have more freshness than Big Red and Mentos combined.
Remember when coming out of the West basically guaranteed that you'd be beaten and bruised by Round 4? L.A. is destroying that narrative. The Kings are a win away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 13 freaking games, over a full series less than New York or New Jersey.
If the Rangers meet the Kings in the Final, the trick to a Cup win for New York will be giving Los Angeles something it's yet to face this postseason: an elite shutdown pairing firing on all cylinders. Girardi and McDonagh can be that pairing, no doubt, but the odds that they'll be at their best when they've played more minutes and blocked more shots than any other duo in recent playoff history are slim.
- Sports & Recreation
- Dan Girardi
- Ryan McDonagh