Saturday, April 16, 2011

Absence of Callahan Only Further Proving His Worth To Rangers

The importance of Ryan Callahan to the New York Rangers was never in question, but the level of impact in his absence is making his value to this version of the team painfully evident.  There was a discussion of how the Rangers were able to play solid hockey without Callahan in the 19 games he missed during the regular season.  Now the team is seeing the difference between regular season and playoff hockey.  In the playoffs, stars have to be stars and the Rangers are trying to beat the top seed in the conference without their best forward.  The lack of Callahan shows up in all facets of the game.

The offense, sans the New Jersey finale, has scored one goal in three games without Callahan.  The forwards have zero goals in those games and beyond the lack of finishing is the inability to truly generate consistent chances.  The team is without a consistent forecheck, lacked energy all over the ice and is not as willing to go to the dirty areas.  I am not even arguing that Callahan is a great hockey player, but his absence shows you both his importance and the lack of top end players in this team’s forward core.  

The two guys most capable of picking up the scoring side of it are Gaborik and Dubinsky.  Those two are the most talented forwards in the lineup and both have failed to step up to the plate in the biggest games of the year.  Gaborik has played well in stretches over the two games, but the lack of finish is still haunting the team.  Dubinsky on the other hand has had two bad games and is clearly missing having Callahan on a line with him.  The spark for Dubinsky and especially the awareness of what his other linemates are going to do is very evident.  The result has been him seemingly wondering around at times right now.  

Beyond the offensive end it shows up on the first goal for the Capitals last night as the Rangers lost the battles along the wall and sucked too low in the zone and left Chimera alone for the one-timer.  The penalty kill has been fine, but the power play, which has struggled with and without Callahan has absolutely no clue and even less net presence.  

Someone has to take the reins of this deal starting tomorrow and either fill the voids Callahan has left behind or convince everyone else to stop waiting for Callahan to step on the ice and fix it for them.  They are without him for now and if they want to see him play again this year, they have to do what is necessary to give him enough time to heal.  At this current pace he will have plenty of time before training camp in the fall.

When talking about a player’s contract usually you reference what he has done on the ice.  In the case of Ryan Callahan, the reference might be more about what his team cannot do without him.