After dropping their regular season opener against the Phoenix Coyotes 4-1 with offseason holdout Derek Stepan in the lineup, the New York Rangers will be in L.A. tonight to take on the Los Angeles Kings as the Blueshirts will look to tally their first points of the year.
The Kings are a team who have been to the Western Conference Finals twice and won a Stanley Cup in the last two years, so the Rangers will need all the help they can get. Luckily, Rangers captain Ryan Callahan is coming to the rescue … or is he?
With Callahan coming back tonight to face the Kings, now the only injured player that needs to return to the Rangers soon is winger Carl Hagelin, but in all honesty, do these guys actually make all that much of a difference? I am not saying these guys aren’t good players, but are they huge game-changers?
Callahan is a very good player, but he is not great by any means, and is not necessarily a player that every team wishes to have. However, he is the captain and leader of the Rangers and a potential 30-goal scorer, so obviously he would help the Rangers come out of their scoring woes a little.
He should provide some sort of a spark for the rest of the team, but how much exactly? Is Callahan going to make veteran players like Brad Richards, Brian Boyle and Taylor Pyatt wake up and play some hockey? Highly unlikely. I am not questioning Callahan’s leadership skills but let’s face it, he is not going to go down as one of the best captains in NHL history when it’s all said and done.
As for Hagelin, he is young and provides the Rangers with great speed, but his inability to finish off a play is quite bothersome; and for a guy with his skill set, you would figure he would be more than a 10-15 goal scorer per year, but like the rest of the team, the puck can just never find the net.
So I ask you, do Callahan and Hagelin actually make that much of a difference? Now don’t get me wrong — they will help some, but just not as much as some fans think. If the organization and fans think that Callahan and Hagelin are the keys to winning the Stanley Cup this year, then they are sadly mistaken.
I’m sorry, but this is Callahan and Hagelin, not Mark Messier and Adam Graves we are talking about.