1) Ryan Callahan. He’s first not because he scored two goals and had an assist, seven hits, six shots on goal, and a blocked shot, or because he was the first star or because they were chanting his name at the Garden. He’s first because he’s overshadowing everything the Rangers are doing now. I would be very surprised if this gets resolved before the Olympics, though I have heard there definitely is a chance it will. Anyway, click here for my story on the game and the situation with the captain.
2) I got to thinking that one reason why Callahan can’t get $45.5 million, or whatever it is he’s asking, over seven years from the Rangers is because of how few of these reviews this season have been about him. I mean, honestly, he hasn’t been bad at all. Well, he struggled like Henrik Lundqvist, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, almost all of them, struggled at some points earlier this season. But he sure hasn’t been bad. It’s just that he hasn’t been great, either. He’s been hurt, he’s lost his spot on the power play, he wasn’t the automatic first forward on the 3-on-5. Do I think he’s still a player every single team would want? Absolutely, 100 percent. Do I think the Rangers will miss him, no matter what they end up getting in exchange? Yessir. Do I think they should go to six or seven years? Nope. I don’t. I think five years at $6M per is high for the player he is. I don’t think Glen Sather will go beyond that. But the sides will talk this week.
3) Now about that game. Callahan said it was the best start he can remember. I agree. They were on the Avalanche from the drop to the buzzer in the first, and really could have been up much more than 2-0. Roger Neilson used to say, it isn’t who you play, it’s when you play them. The Rangers were off for three days, the Avs finishing three in four nights on the road. So, surely that had something to do with it. Colorado is a really good team that was overwhelmed.
4) Maybe it really is time to start thinking about this team being in the upper echelon of the NHL after 15 wins in 21 games. Hey, I’m not saying they will get a sniff of the Stanley Cup, or that they could stack up with Boston or Pittsburgh (unless Marc-Andre Fleury does his usual flop) in a playoff series. Not saying they should be in the same sentence as San Jose or Anaheim or Chicago, even. But if we all agree that the West is Best, well, the Rangers are now 9-9 against the West, and that’s after starting 1-6 against the West. That’s 8-3 since. There are a bunch of teams better, but there are a lot more teams worse. Of course, even if you agree with this, the ledge will be crowded during the next two or three-game losing streak, which of course will happen.
5) These Rangers forecheck more with speed than muscle. Man, they move the puck and beat the opponent to it when they’re going like this. Just quick feet. And, most of them don’t mind getting dirty, either. Not going to out-bang many teams, but can still win puck battles. And have been lately.
6) By the way, this guy’s a pretty good coach, eh?
7) Henrik Lundqvist. That 5-on-3 is why you don’t get by with less than stellar goaltending. Great teams might. Not this team. For those scoring at home (or those who are alone, ba-dum-bum) Lundqvist has allowed two or fewer in 10 of his last 11 (he gave up three during his nap at the Stadium). He’s 9-2, 1.46, .952 in that stretch. He’s four wins away from Mike Richter’s team record of 301.
8) Another big night for Ryan McDonagh and new papa, Marc Staal. The other D-men, too. But those two guys were beasts, especially on the 3-on-5 kill, for which they each had a shift of over 2:00. If and when Callahan leaves, I still think Staal gets the C … and the Rangers will/better work to keep him here long-term … and McMonster gets an A.
9) Daily Nash-O-Meter. I thought Rick Nash had a lot of jump, was involved. Only had three shots on goal. Was fouled again on a breakaway (no call, as usual). I thought his line was really good. Again. Geez, it’s really hard to come up with stuff when so many guys play like this.
10) The fourth line was really solid again. How about Dominic Moore playing almost the whole 3-on-5, and the job he did when he stole the puck and brought it to the other end and tried to keep it there. Huge point in the game.
11) Brad Richards, after what I thought might have been his worst game of the season, had a really strong rebound game 5-on-5, one of his best of the season. Then again, a lot of guys did: Carl Hagelin, most notably, Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard, Benoit Pouliot. Guys were flying.
12) Patrick Roy doesn’t believe in timeouts. Like AV. Whenever I see Roy I expect James Patrick to get tripped by a linesman in overtime. And I think of Roy telling Jeremy Roenick he can’t hear him because he has his Stanley Cup rings in his ears.
13) The 2011-12 team was already good and rolling (6-1 in its last seven) when the Winter Classic arrived, but seemed to use that as a springboard to be better. Then starting with the Winter Classic, the ‘11-12 team went 19-6-3 in its next 27. Can this team use the Stadium Series the same way?
14) I thought the PP was better than it’s been in a little while, even though it didn’t score. By the way, last review after the Islanders game, I said the power play was 0-for-20 in the last five games. I was looking at the Islanders game-by-game sheet. Ooops. The Rangers now haven’t scored in five, and it’s only 0-for-13 over the five. Sorry.
15) Still have plenty of room for A) anybody who wants to do a guest blog during the Olympic break or B) anybody who wants to join me in picking the stars while Kenny Albert’s in Sochi (or even after he gets back). Interested? Drop me an email at email@example.com.
16) Please me smart and safe out there today. Supposed to get stupid slippery and dangerous. I suggest staying home and logged on to Rangers Report. But, hey, that’s just me.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1. Ryan Callahan.
2. Henrik Lundqvist.
3. Carl Hagelin.
cooscoos’s Three Rangers Stars:
1. Cally, Hags, Zucc (of course?)
2. Fourth Line each of whom rarely gets a shout-out.
3. Superb Defensive 6, same reason.
Sorry to leave anyone out—total effort(s).
Your poll vote for Three Rangers Stars:
1. Ryan Callahan.
2. Henrik Lundqvist.
3. Mats Zuccarello.
Photos by Getty Images.