Rangers voice support for struggling Girardi

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The New York Rangers have come to the defense of their struggling teammate, Dan Girardi, after the veteran’s giveaway in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final led to an overtime loss versus the Los Angeles Kings.

“Stuff like that is going to happen in a hockey game,” said Rangers forward Carl Hagelin. “I think what we’ve been doing is coming back stronger in the game after when we lose. G is a big part of this team, a great leader. He plays a lot of heavy minutes for us. It’s unfortunate that happened. He’s going to bounce back next game.”

Forward Derek Stepan had a similar, supportive message.

“Dan is a huge part of our hockey club,” he said. “I know that he’s probably moved way past it and he’s getting himself ready to play the next game. We’ve all been there. … If there’s a professional that can move away from it, it is Dan.”

The problem for the Rangers is this: Girardi’s giveaway may have been unlucky, and something that could happen to anyone. But the 30-year-old’s struggles extend far past one play, as illustrated by his postseason possession numbers, which are among the worst on the club.

To be fair, as Hagelin noted, Girardi does play “heavy minutes,” often being deployed against the opponents’ best players, with a good number of defensive-zone starts.

Regardless, Girardi will be a player to watch Saturday in Game 2.

“I do know that Dan’s got great teammates,” said coach Alain Vigneault. “I’m sure that they’ve all talked to him. It was a bounce. It was a bounce that unfortunately didn’t work out. He couldn’t put the handle on it. Stuff like that happens. You got to turn the page and move on.”