The Rangers’ sixth defenseman has accounted for 24 third-period shifts in 15 games, a total that includes 11 such shifts in two blowout losses to the Penguins. The math tells us, then, that in games where it is close, the sixth defenseman has gotten 13 third-period shifts in 13 games.
Matt Gilroy will dress for his 10th straight Thursday night in Ottawa after sitting out the first six games as a healthy scratch. He has been the sixth defenseman in seven of his nine games, the fifth in the two that Dan Girardi missed with a lower body injury. Gilroy has gotten seven third-period shifts in the last six games. He hasn’t been on the ice later than the 6:50 mark of the third in any of the last five.
“It would be easy to get frustrated over it, and I probably would have earlier in my career, but I’ve learned that this is a process and to grow with it,” the 28-year-old Gilroy, in his second stint as a Ranger, told The Post Wednesday. “I was always in such a rush instead of taking it a day at time and learning from experience.
“Players have to earn the trust of these coaches before they get ice time. I understand that and I understand that I need to keep working on my game and improve. I think I’ve matured.”
Coach John Tortorella praised Gilroy’s offensive game, noting that his mobility has elevated him over Steve Eminger (currently on a conditioning assignment with the AHL Whale) and Stu Bickel. The coach though noted that Gilroy must improve in the defensive zone in order to get third-period minutes.
“I think Gilly has improved, but he has to get stronger in the defensive zone and in closing on his checks down low,” Tortorella said. “That’s been a point of emphasis with him right on through.
Gilroy looking for more play in 3rd
New York Post | Feb 21