Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Rangers Must Find a Way Without Callahan

AP Photo
The Rangers' astounding 5-3 comeback win over the Boston Bruins Monday night came at an extreme cost as they lost their alternate captain in Ryan Callahan to a broken ankle. The news of Callahan's injury muffled the carry-over excitement that was buzzing within the fan base following the victory because Callahan is second to only Henrik Lundqvist in order of importance to this hockey club. He is the heart and he is the soul that has carried the Rangers so far this season and now, just a week before the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway, he is suddenly unavailable for an unknown period of time. It's probably one of the worst things that could have happened to the Blueshirts at this point of the season - I'm not going to lie - but the team cannot let this unfortunate news bring them down. In fact, they should use it as motivation more than anything.

New York has played eighty games so far this season, 43 of which they have won. Callahan has played a huge role in a majority of those wins with his consistent effort and leadership. He is so well respected around the National Hockey League for his work ethic, which is why Zdeno Chara, whose slap shot broke Callahan's ankle on Monday, said he felt deeply sorry for what happened because he respects Ryan and the game he plays so much.

Going back to Callahan's importance to the team, the same could be said of Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings, both of which are currently out of the lineup with injuries while their teammates gear up for the playoffs. Both teams have embraced this and are still finding ways to succeed without their stars in the lineup. The Rangers must do the same, not only in the playoffs, but also in the final two games of the regular season so that they make it to the playoffs.

“Obviously he’s one of the best players on the team, and it’s a huge loss,” said winger Marian Gaborik. “We just have to play for him and try to go as far as we can so that he can hopefully come back.”

That was sniper Marian Gaborik's reaction to hearing Callahan was out indefinitely, and I highlighted his quote specifically because he has the right attitude here. Losing Ryan is huge, as Gabby stated, but it would be even bigger if the Rangers were able to win and continue on with this magical season despite that. Instead of playing without Callahan, the Rangers should look to play for him.

The 26-year-old from Rochester, New York puts his life on the line for the team each and every night, and now it is time for his mates to return the favor. There's no doubt that Callahan is very frustrated over this untimely injury, and the emotional pain is probably getting to him more than the physical pain. But the only thing that could make him feel better right now would be for the team to go out there and earn a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and then claw their way deep enough into the postseason so that he possibly could make a return before the season ends.

The Rangers were able to win without Callahan earlier in the season when he missed some time in the months of December and January after breaking his hand, also while blocking a shot. So, taking that into consideration, there is no reason why they shouldn't be able to do it again.

“There’s nothing good about this,” head coach John Tortorella told following a team meeting on Tuesday. “But I think you need to try and turn it into something that will help your team even more during this crunch time. That’s the way we are going to approach it. This could galvanize our team even more.”

To sum up this article, I will leave you with a unique way of looking at this:

Every Cinderella story consists of an underdog finding success by overcoming a critical loss of some sort, doesn't it? A loss that, when overcome, makes for an even more dramatic story in the end? If so, then the Rangers have a tremendous opportunity to make 2010-11 into a Cinderella season.

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