Vigneault explains decision to drop Girardi to second pairing

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Sometimes it’s hard for a coach to admit that a veteran’s play has tailed off, but that isn’t a problem Alain Vigneault.

New York’s bench boss didn’t hide the fact that he thought Kevin Klein was a better fit on his top pairing than Dan Girardi.

“Kevin was playing so much better than (Girardi) that I had to make the switch,” Vigneault said. “For some reason, Danny’s overall game, especially with the puck, has not been as efficient as in the past.”

“He’s working at it. Watching a lot of video to see where he can improve.”

The 31-year-old has seen his average ice time decrease in each of the last four seasons and he’s currently on pace to see that happen for a fifth year in a row.

For now, Girardi is playing on the second pairing with Keith Yandle, while Klein is with captain Ryan McDonagh.

Girardi played through a bad ankle injury last season and although Vigneault admits it could be a reason for his lackluster play, he isn’t prepared to use it as an excuse.

It’s not an excuse but it is a reality,” Vigneault told reporters. “It was a long recovery.

Despite his struggles, don’t expect the Rangers to “rest” Girardi by making him a healthy scratch. That doesn’t seem to be in the cards right now.