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Pain of Victory

It should have been a happy night among the New York Rangers. After a slow start to the season, the Rangers won games back to back for the first time. They earned their first victory within the Atlantic Division, and evened up the season series with the Philadelphia Flyers. Instead, the Rangers went home from Madison Square Garden wondering how hurt their captain was, and for how long.

The Rangers wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. Early pressure in the Philly zone lead to a Michael Del Zotto blast by Ilya Bryzgalov at 1:57 of the opening frame. The teams battled until midway through the 2nd period. Penalties to Centers Brad Richards and Derek Stepan 43 seconds apart gave the Flyers 1:17 of 5-on-3 time. Philadelphia sustained pressure throughout the 5-on-3 and on the remaining power play time, but had trouble getting shots on net. Soon after the penalty kill, Max Talbot was called for tripping. Ryan Callahan would capitalize on the opportunity with a put-back goal to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead heading in to the 2nd break.

Michael Del Zotto celebrates
Michael Del Zotto celebrates his early 1st period goal in the Rangers 3-2 win over Philadelphia
(Elsa – Getty Images)

A scrum by the net early in the 3rd period found Callahan and Talbot tangled awkwardly. After the two wrestled to the ice, the Rangers captain left the ice and wouldn’t return for the remainder of the evening. Soon after, Flyers veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen pulled Philadelphia within 1 with a rocket on the power play. The Flyers had two more power play opportunities after that, but the Rangers would stand pat the rest of the way. Both Henrik Lundqvist & Ilya Bryzgalov finished with 27 saves on the night.

Pain of Victory
Flyers F Maxime Talbot and Rangers F Ryan Callahan in a tangle resulted in Callahan leaving the game.
(Elsa – Getty Images)

The Rangers earned their 3rd straight home victory, but it comes at a cost of 10-14 days of Ryan Callahan’s services. Considering how bad it looked when it happened, a shoulder subluxation (aka a separated shoulder) is good news for the team.  The Rangers top line seems to be set (Rick Nash-Brad Richards-Marian Gaborik), but the 2nd line was still finding its way. Callahan and Derek Stepan made up 2/3’s of it, but finding chemistry with another winger has been an issue. The amount of scoring from the Rangers defensemen has been a nice surprise, but the Rangers will need a 2nd group up-front that can produce.  On replacing Ryan Callahan, Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella said after practice on Wednesday “I don’t think you fill his role. I felt that in the third period last night when we were protecting the lead, that’s a very big part of his game. So it comes through the team, through the team concept. Every team goes through the injuries, and just playing that much better in the situations that he’s been put in through his career, it needs to be done as a group.”

Injuries create opportunities. The Rangers group of forwards (beyond the top line) now have a two-week audition to show that they want to be a top-6 forward.

 

Adam Bernard
I'm a seasoned veteran in the sports media field and a lifelong Rangers fan (hoping to relive 1994 at some point - I couldn't fully appreciate a championship at 11 years old). Hockey dominates my life for the most part: I also root for the Blackhawks & Kings, I've been lucky enough to split season tickets for the Blueshirts with a good friend since the lockout, and I'm a defenseman on a local roller hockey team. Away from the rink, I enjoy hiking, hard rock music, and spending time with my dog Astro.
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