McDonagh-Girardi pair a big hit for Rangers


Here’s the story by Josh Thomson, 26, in today’s Journal News and on

By Josh Thomson, 26

NEW YORK — Like every new pairing or line combination, tethering Ryan McDonagh to Dan Girardi required a leap of faith. John Tortorella only inserted McDonagh alongside Girardi on the Rangers’ top defensive pair out of necessity anyway.

Marc Staal began the season sidelined, suffering from post-concussion syndrome, and the club and Girardi were forced to start the season without him.

More than seven months and three playoff series later, fans have dubbed McDonagh “McMonster,” an ode to his development into one of the league’s top young shutdown defensemen. The pairing with Girardi now has their eyes on keeping Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise off the board in the conference finals, a daunting feat they accomplished in Game 1 on Monday.

“You never know how this works out,” Tortorella said. “I’m not sure if I’ll ever split those two guys up.”

McDonagh began the season as the unknown. The 22-year old joined the Rangers midway through the 2010-11 season after 38 games in the AHL. He skated in their last 40 regular-season games and posted a plus-16 rating, followed by playing all five playoff games against the Capitals.

The St. Paul, Minn., native came to the organization from Montreal the year prior in a swap for disappointing center Scott Gomez and others. He transformed what was once viewed as a contract dump into an outright pilfering. McDonagh skated in all 82 games with the Rangers this season, scored 32 points and posted a plus-25 rating.

“I don’t think about it too much. I’m just happy that I had the opportunity to play here and make the jump last year and help the team in the playoffs,” McDonagh said. “Going into this year, I just wanted to be that much more effective. I knew my role would increase a little bit and I just wanted to be prepared to help the team win.”

In Game 1 Monday night, the fleet McDonagh saved his stay-at-home partner Girardi, who struggled before scoring the eventual game-winning goal in the third period. Instead, it was McDonagh who recovered to help snuff out breakaways by Parise and Kovalchuk in the first and drew a penalty in the defensive zone after Girardi’s clearing attempt early in the second nearly ended up behind goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

“Sometimes it works between guys and sometimes it doesn’t, and it’s just seemed to gel,” Girardi said.

The absence of Staal not only forced McDonagh into this increased role, it accelerated the young defenseman’s learning curve. Tortorella calculated that McDonagh was probably a year ahead of where he’d be without the extra responsibilities.

In the meantime, McDonagh and Girardi have strengthened their bond away from the rink. They eat together on the road and McDonagh visits Girardi at home to play with his son, Landon.

“I think that’s kind of part of why we’re doing well,” Girardi said. “We’re good friends off the ice, and it makes our job on the ice easier.”


Also, here’s Josh’s story on Henrik Lundqvist from late Monday night.


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  1. True Fans Bleed RW&B on

    Torts also really likes discussing bus stop bully stories, Carp.

  2. I was also going to ask him about the officiating. And if there will be any lineup changes. And about the Jack(wagon) Adams Award.

  3. True Fans Bleed RW&B on

    Wouldn’t hurt to throw in a question about “the other team” or “their goalie,” always open to a few of those.

  4. Listening to Pierre on NHL Network Radio – talking about competition committee needing to look at a resolution to all of this shot blocking which is bringing the game down.

    This is a total over-reaction. It’s not like the Rangers hand the puck to the other team and let the other team tire their arms out by shooting pucks that get blocked.

    The Rangers block shots when they lost the puck. They forecheck aggressively. It’s not even close to the sitting back and clog the neutral zone trap that the Devils played in the mid 90s.

    I don’t see how it’s boring – I’m tense as hell when the Rangers can’t seem to get the puck out of the zone!

  5. Maybe If we think torts is so gruff and off putting we like his players even more. One devil fan said the rangers would jump off a bridge for the gut right now

  6. They absolutely would, PBR, and he’s not this way with them at all. He’s demanding, but he’s also nurturing and he’s very much a teacher … and though he gets in their faces sometimes, he’s also very patient with the younger guys, especially.

  7. a couple of more questions for Torts at the next presser:
    – Does he approve of Hank’s ‘heading’ of the puck?
    – Do the Rangers actually practice their stick salute?
    – Why isn’t he dressing the Answer? (this one is too easy – ‘next question’)
    – How is Cally’s finger? Boyles Head?, Girardi’s face?
    – Is there any chance he would call an ‘icing’ timeout other than the 2nd period?
    – If the Rangers win the Cup, will he ever do a hair-dye commercial with Clyde and Keith where he would get to say the line ‘next question’?

  8. True Fans Bleed RW&B on

    Where was this uproar last year when Callahan dove to block a 105mph shot that broke his foot and ended his playoff run?!

    This is going nowhere. Its’ wasted ink/pixels. Let Pierre talk about this, beats learning that former-NHL player Jeff Halpern is the first Maryland raised player to play on the Caps. If that guy was a little smarter and had a little less free time he would realize nobody would care about that. LIterally, I know a friend of a friend of Halpern’s and he laughed hearing it.

  9. True Fans Bleed RW&B on

    I would also like to hear a little about what Torts tells Stepan and Callahan these days to get them going.

  10. Doodie Machetto, Get well Tony and Miami Pimp on

    “Also, here’s Josh’s story on Henrik Lundqvist from late Monday night.”

    That should read:

    Also, here’s the story by Josh Thomson, 26, on Henrik Lundqvist from late Monday night.

  11. True,

    Totally agree. Cally being lost for blocking a shot IS the risk and price you sometimes pay. Now all of the sudden, the Rangers are the poster boys for boring hockey and whats wrong with the league.

    You want to make the game more exciting? Start measuring goalie equipment (again) and widen the rink to international size.


  12. Haha, they just brought up Craig Ludwig who used to play for Minnesota/Dallas. Remember that guy’s shin pads? He wore the widest shin pads in the league – like phone books or sears catalogs stuffed in his socks.

    This guy Bill Waters is an idiot. He keeps saying that the league is going to catch up and teams will eventually “shoot on both ends” meaning feet and HEAD.

  13. True Fans Bleed RW&B on

    Or make the nets 6-8 inches wider (3-4″ per side) and 2-4″ taller, Matt.

  14. Sioux-per-man on

    CARP – do you still go with the games 1-1 after tonight?

    Something tells me, tonight the Ranger’s win. Shut down one line with Kovy & Parise together and the night belongs to the blueshirts!!!

    Let’s Go Rangers!!!!

  15. just thinking about the American skaters on our team and just needing a distraction away from tonight I began thinking about who will represent in the 2014 Olympics ‘IF’ the NHL shuts down (can’t think it won’t considering the home country in that one).

    We could have at least 5-6 players going:
    McDonagh, Girardi, Cally, Stepan, Kreider and Boyle (??)
    and possibly another Ranger, Zach Parise

    Personally that’s a pretty good nucleus for a winning team, then throw in Quick / Miller in the nets, add Dustin Brown, Couturier, Van Riemsdyk, Matt Carle, Kane, Stafford, Myers, Backes, Oshie

    PLUS the guys currently overseas,
    Pacioretty, Johnson, Stastny, Ryan, etc.

    They have the makings of a pretty nice team

    Anchored, of course, by mostly home-grown Rangers. I love it.

  16. ulfie28,

    Girardi is a Canadian, and Couturier plays internationally for Canada.

  17. Leaving my home in New Jersey right now. As I always do, will drive by Newark and turn my head away. Then, by the Byrne-Continental-Izod Arena and turn away. Then on to Secaucus and join thousands of Jersey fans taking the train in to root for a REAL team and a REAL organization!!!


    WE WIN TONITE!!!!!!!

  18. All the griping and hand-wringing by the “Experts” about how the Rangers’ shot blocking is ruining the league is a bunch of BS…

    The “experts” are just terribly upset because ALL of their picks for the Conference or Cup finals went out the window.

    Their beloved Canucks and Penguins got DESTROYED in the first round

    It kills them that the Rangers might go all the way. But notice how they didn’t care ONE BIT when it was the Caps? How the Caps had found a new-found respect for the defensive side of the game? How they might finally have learned how to play as a TEAM? How the Caps learned how to sacrifice?

    Nope…not when it’s the Rangers.

    If they can’t respect Hank being an all-world goaltender…if they can’t respect the young players of the Rangers making huge strides…if they can’t respect Ryan McDonagh catching up to Parise like I don’t think I’ve ever seen a D get back from that far back…

    Then they are NOT hockey fans. They’re just part of the old-school…old useless school

  19. I could tell that Girardi and McDonagh were buddies when they wore the frightening, matching red pants to the ugly sweater party on HBO.

  20. Blogmama Go Tony!!!! on

    Josh, I miss you, you 26 year old bastage! Are you having fun? You must be!

    Question for Torts: When you met mama in Sweden, wasn’t she fab?
    Answer from Torts: Who? What are you….next question.
    Me watching: Sob!

  21. Nobody forgets you, Mama. Ever. Youre worth the price of admission and then some.

    So close, yet so far. I hope the crowd lights the place on fire (not literally) tonight.

  22. Blogmama Go Tony!!!! on

    Winston…true!!! hey, does anybody know….do they room together on road?

    One (of many) thing (s) I hate about losing local coverage is the lack of video after game for stars and the Rangers (Boyle, Prust, MDZ especially) doing their thing as they head off ice.

    If we have to accept that carcillo for the opposing teams so be it, but I think it would attract fans more if they saw that stuff … they are so quick to cut out after the last Pierre interview, and who needs that….

  23. Youse guys don’t think all this uproar has to do with gritty yanks throwing themselves in front of frozen vulcanized rubber? As if it’s the 1938 Chicago blackhawks all over again (help me here Fran). That was a team built on American talent that won a cup but people discount that team as a flash in the pan. A one-offer with no long term impact on the league. What if this gritty team wins the cup, after all the success the US has had at the junior level and growing success the US is having at the over 20 level? Will Canadians et canadiens have some issues to consider on the international level…. But back to our boys…. Our multinational international rangers! Just go and get em! No conspiracies here. They win the way the play and I don’t think any of us, even the NNs would want it any other way.

  24. In any case this should be a titanic clash tonight! The devils will throw the kitchen sink at our boys tonight. Question is do they solve henrik? Do they feel efficacy? Because if they do not, it’s 2-0 blueshirts and torts gives. 4:28 second press conference where he will continue to make himself an (the) issue and not one ranger player.

  25. Ria(the silent bonehead) on

    Mama thats why I listen to Dave & kenny to find out the 3 stars & get the interviews before msg decides to let us see them. Also it beats the “combo” postgame with the other asshats from the devils . I wonder who’s “brilliant” idea it was to to do 1 postgame show for both teams.

  26. One game for Hanzal, three games for Hagelin.. the wheel of justice continues!

  27. Mr. Berg, are you going to do your assignment? do you still want to do three stars, after snubbing me last game?

  28. Rangers need to come out of the gate strong tonight. Rangers win and the Devils have to win 4 of 5 and even the Devils know that isn’t happening.

  29. True Fans Bleed RW&B on

    That’s the SECOND time that Carp said “What’s up son?” today …. eek!

  30. Ive never condoned snubbing in my administration…sure I recently found the “draft” that I swore was sent. So I have one in the hopper whenever.

  31. just send it after any game, snubber. I can use two selectors. it’s the internet. unlimited space. :)

  32. If the Rangers win tonight –

    How many tickets at The Pebble switch hands from Devils fans to Blueshirts fans?

    I’m thinking if they get a 2-0 series lead tonight, some Devils fans are just gonna give up.

  33. And the idea of blending the Devils and Rangers broadcast teams in the post game is the most asinine idea MSG Network has ever had.

    Having to sit through Chico Resch is something NO RANGERS FAN SHOULD EVER HAVE TO GO THROUGH!!

  34. Goooood evening gang!

    Nice article by Josh, 26.

    Can we start the game already? SHEESH.

  35. In hingsight, Carp, I kinda enjoyed the games starting an hour earlier. Made the waiting easier!

  36. Good story, but Josh, 26, what everyone wants to know is does Staal still come over to Girardi’s house? Or is he out? Please ask Torts at the end of the game presser.

  37. ZzZz NYR ZzZz© " Don't stepan the logo!!!"...says Greg L. on

    RAAAAAAAAANGERSSSSS , Lets go gog gogog gog gog gogo!!!



    3 periods of non stop hockey action!!!!!!

    Our boys are ready , lets do this!!!!!!


  38. ZzZz NYR ZzZz© " Don't stepan the logo!!!"...says Greg L. on

    Im not even american and I still get chills when they play this song.

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