Being a blue collar, hard-nosed hockey club has its advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, grinding out wins against elite teams like the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins has enabled the Blueshirts to post a 19-13-1 record and plant themselves thoroughly in the playoff race. On the other hand, throwing bodies in front of pucks every night can often lead to broken bodies.
Just as the Rangers welcomed back Chris Drury to the lineup, tone-setter Ryan Callahan broke his hand blocking a shot in the 4-1 win over Pittsburgh Wednesday night. Early reports have Callahan on the shelf for a month and a half, a huge blow to the Blueshirts and arguably the biggest setback of the season.
Callahan is one of the Rangers’ top point producers and has helped carry the team early alongside Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov. He’s also the team’s tempo setter. Most night’s he’ll be the first player to throw a hit, always goes hard to the net and won’t back down from a challenge. The Rangers will now have to find their spark from someone else while he heals.
Aside from losing one of their on-ice leaders, Wednesday was a huge success for the Rangers (who certainly seem to be making a good impression on HBO’s “24/7: Road to the Winter Classic,” beating both of the participating teams by a combined score of 11-1).
Here are a few notes from the rest of the Rangers media.
Rich Carpiniello says the team should be thrilled with the win, considering they were out-skated for 40 minutes.
Blueshirt Banter notes the slow start as well in their analysis of the win.
Larry Brooks writes that the refs were in the Rangers’ corner Wednesday, unlike their last visit to Consol Energy Center.
Jesse Spector speculates that Mats Zuccarello may get the call to fill the void on the Rangers’ roster with Callahan down. That would thrill me, since I embrace any opportunity to use the diminutive forwards nickname, Norwegian Hobbit Wizard, in a blog. Of course, Hobbit Wizards don’t usually replace the edge a scrappy guy like Callahan provides.
The New York Times wrote Wednesday that a win against the Pens would propel the Rangers to elite status. Well, whaddya think, are they elite?
Andrew Gross says Brian Boyle played his best game as a Ranger within his wrap-up blog. What a year he’s having. What’s most impressive to me is that the vast majority of his 12 goals are not fluky shots. They’re high percentage shots taken close to the net. He may not be greased lightning on the ice, but I can definitely see Boyle fitting the Mike Knuble mould for a long time to come.
And finally, if you aren’t watching HBO’s 24/7 special on the Caps and Penguins, you should. Even if you hate both teams it provides some amazing insights into the game off the ice and on it. Think Dubinsky and Alex Ovechkin hated each other after their little dust-up on Sunday? Guess again. The HBO show captured audio of both brawlers congratulating each other after it was over. Sunday’s win over the Caps capped the first episode, and the win over the Pens will certainly highlight next Wednesday’s episode. It’s definitely worth calling your satellite or cable provider to see about any HBO promotional offers they may be running. If you’re a hockey fan, you will love it.