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Matt Gilroy: New York Rangers Playing Him at Forward is Best Way to Use the Defenseman

February 4th, 2013 at 12:13 PM
By PJ Foti

Despite the recent win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the lack of secondary scoring will continue to be an issue for the New York Rangers.

Aside from the first line, the puck has rarely hit the back of the net for the Rangers. On Saturday, both Carl Hagelin and Derek Stepan got themselves on the board, but the Rangers still need more offense.

Sure, they generate shots in the zone, but taking wristers from 15 feet isn't the answer for a team searching for goals. Most of the time, many of the shots the Rangers put on target are easy saves for any goaltender in the league, and they rarely turn into rebound opportunities.

The offense needs more people who can take the puck in close, where if you noticed Saturday, all three Ranger goals were scored from right around the crease area.

That's where Matt Gilroy comes into play. The former Hobey Baker winner has great hands as a defenseman, as seen from the above video, and will generate more scoring opportunities than Stu Bickel as a forward.

In fact, Gilroy paired with Benn Ferriero could be something of a nice tandem with Jeff Halpern as a third line for the Blueshirts. All three are quality, fast skaters and could create space to help open an opposing defense. The trio would also be a solid defensive unit, which we all know head coach John Tortorella loves. Halpern and Ferriero have both made appearances on the penalty kill, and Gilroy being a defenseman will have a natural defensive instinct.

Meanwhile, Tortorella has made it no secret that he prefers giving Bickel as little ice time as possible. Having him be the sixth defenseman will really limit his minutes as the coach has been double shifting his top players. Therefore, the Rangers have Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Stall and Michael Del Zotto logging big minutes, with Anton Stralman's playing time slightly increasing game by game.

Moving Gilroy up top makes the lineup more flexible as he can easily be moved back to defense in a crucial situation where Torts doesn't trust Bickel. Also, have you seen Bickel on the puck? He's a hard nosed player, something Ranger fans love about him. But he isn't one that will put the puck in the back of the net — a skill Gilroy potentially has.

Moving Gilroy up will be more beneficial for this team moving forward, or at least until Ryan Callahan can return.

Tags: Anton Stralman, Benn Ferriero, Dan Girardi, Hockey, Jeff Halpern, John Tortorella, Marc Stall, Matt Gilroy, Michael Del Zotto, New York, New York Rangers, NHL, Ryan Callahan, Ryan McDonagh, Stu Bickel

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