Matt Gilroy is not the Rangers’ biggest problem. You know this, the Rangers know it, and Matt Gilroy knows it, too. But he is their latest scapegoat: The Rangers demoted the rookie defenseman to Hartford yesterday, mostly because he had a terrible game against Chicago on Wednesday night — he got burned by Dustin Byfuglien on the overtime winner — but also because, quite frankly, he’s one of the few players who can be scapegoated.
As bad as Michal Roszival has been at times, he’s not going down to Hartford. And though we actually think Wade Redden’s had a better season than last — not a great year, especially for how much he makes, but a good enough year that he no longer deserves to be booed every time he touches the puck — his job is completely safe, too, even if he regresses.
John Tortorella has spoken about guys earning playing time, which is a perfectly reasonable idea. But this really only applies to the forwards: They can be scratched from the lineup, or be given drastically reduced playing time. We’d actually hoped that with Wade Redden back from an injury and Ilkka Heikkinen up from the minors, they’d carry seven defensemen for a while, meaning one of them wouldn’t dress for any given game.
Slashing a defenseman’s playing time isn’t realistic — playing a man short would be cutting off your nose to spite your face — but why should all the defensemen for whom the AHL isn’t an option be the only ones guaranteed a spot in the lineup every night? We realize that with this particular group, players like Gilroy and Heikkinen aren’t going to get better by watching from the press box. But anything’s worth trying at this point.