On Hockey Day in America, it would be fitting that American Born Derek Stepan would net the game winning power play goal for the New York Rangers. In a game that had the intensity of a playoff game, the Rangers played one of their most complete games of the season firing a season high 40 shots at a hot Braden Holtby. On the 30th shot of the game for the Rangers, Carl Hagelin finally got one passed Holtby continuing his scoring tear as of late with his 5thgoal in 6 games. Henrik Lundqvist was stellar in net again, and late in the game single handedly stopped a key Capitals power play; making save after save to keep it a 2-1 game.
In the intensity of this game, one player stood out even though he had nothing to do with the scoring. Ryan Callahan, the Rangers Captain, showed once again what he does for this Ranger team. He led the team in both hits and blocked shots, with 6 of each. He also got into the face of Caps star Alex Ovechkin. As a Ranger fan we are lucky enough to see what Ryan Callahan brings to the game each and every night. He brings an intensity and grit that drives this Rangers team, which is a big reason why he wears that C on his chest. He is one of the most underrated players in all of hockey. This is a little surprising seeing how his Jersey is the 3rd highest selling this season. Though it was quite evident during the NBCSN broadcast yesterday, as they were speaking more about Ovechkin, who was irrelevant in the game, then they were about Callahan. During the final minute of the game, after the Caps pulled their goalie, Callahan made two huge plays to get the puck out of the zone. This finally drew some recognition from the announcers, who said, “ Callahan doing Callahan things”. He was doing those types of things all game long, and you would think on Hockey Day in America they would highlight the American Born Captain a little more than they did. I watched all # games that were on yesterday for Hockey Day in America. As usual, in game one the talk was all about Sidney Crosby, game two the talk was all about Blackhawks Captain Patrick Kane. Of course, in game 3 all the talk was about Ovechkin, and not the Rangers Captain.
Ryan Callahan is the New York Rangers. He plays with the fire, intensity and grit that define this city’s hockey team. He may not put up the popular stats that people look for when they call a player a superstar, but the attributes he brings to the game cannot go unnoticed. His willingness to sacrifice his body: blocking shots and hitting players as well as battling for pucks in the corners or in front of the net are the little things that can change the momentum of a game. If he wasn’t out on the ice blocking those shots last night and clearing the puck out of the zone when Washington had the extra attacker, that game could have easily been tied. How about the sequence early in the second period, when the Rangers were short handed. He pressured the Caps into a turnover in their own zone and had 3 shots on Holtby. These are the things Ranger fans have come to know and love about our Captain, and the reason we are proud to have him as our Captain. We know that every single game Ryan Callahan will go out there and give 150% for his team and fans. It is why on Hockey Day in America we celebrated our Captain Ryan Callahan the same way we used to celebrate Mark Messier. He may not play the game the same way Messier did, but he brings that extra fire which is something you don’t see in every player. It’s an attitude; it’s a swagger not of arrogance, but of a “don’t worry guys I got this”. It’s not about the name on the back of the Jersey, but the name that runs down the front of it. Those red white and blue colors of the New York Rangers.
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