5 New York Rangers Who Need To Step Up In The Absence Of Ryan Callahan
These 5 New York Rangers Must Rise To The Occasion With Ryan Callahan Out
New York Rangers have found themselves in a spot that no team in the NHL wants to be. Only six games into their 2013-14 season and already the Rangers have lost their top goal scorer, Rick Nash and their Captain, Ryan Callahan, to injuries. This is not exactly the recipe for success.
Coming off a dominant win over Washington Capitals the Rangers received the news about Callahan’s broken thumb and that is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. Trying to build off of an impressive win is difficult when you are quickly gut punched with news like that. Alain Vigneault has his work cut out for him in the coming weeks.
Luckily for New York they only play two games over the course of the next week; Saturday vs. New Jersey Devils and next Thursday vs. Philadelphia Flyers. Both winnable games against struggling teams, but that’s not to say they will be easy. Rivalry games as big as these are always a toss up and the Rangers will need Henrik Lundqvist, Brad Richards, Marc Staal and Dan Girardi to lead the way for them with Callahan out.
It’s going to be a struggle for the Rangers to create offense, which is why they will need to generate rushes into the offensive zone by playing stout defense. Their coverage and responsibilities in the defensive end are more important now than ever. New York should be able to generate enough offense to score goals and win games as long as the defense and Lundqvist perform up to their capabilities.
Callahan does many things on the ice. He scores goals, plays strong defense and is a great penalty killer. Fortunately for the Rangers they have plenty of strong defensemen and good penalty killers, but who is going to step up to score goals and create offensive chances with the Captain missing? Here are five players I think need to step up their game in order for the Rangers to stay competitive while Captain Cally is out.
Martin Burns covers New York Rangers hockey for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter for more thoughts and news on the Blueshirts as well as the rest of the NHL!
5. Benoit Pouliot
Benoit Pouliot has a lot of skill. His hands are exceptional and at times he shows glimpses of why he was drafted fourth overall. Unfortunately his back-checking effort and neutral zone play have been terrible through the first six games for New York. Pouliot will have to at least become reliable in the neutral zone and step up his goal scoring efforts.
4. JT Miller
JT Miller has some Callahan-esque game in him. He gives 110 percent whenever he’s on the ice but is still learning how he can be most effective for New York. Miller will have to continue his strong forecheck and get dirty along the boards, something Callahan excels at.
3. Mats Zuccarello
Mats Zuccarello has gotten off to a disappointing start for the Rangers. He looked like he was ready to contribute as a top-six forward during training camp and the preseason but so far that success hasn’t translated to the regular season. Zuccarello has some grit to his game, but his strongest asset is his playmaking ability and ability to beat goaltenders one on one. Zuccarello needs to find himself in better scoring chances to create goals and opportunities for others.
2. Derick Brassard
Derick Brassard has started to find his game. He was exceptional on the dominant line against the Capitals that included him, Richards and Callahan. If he can build off of the success he had on Wednesday night then the Rangers will have a very solid playmaking center on the power play. Brassard showed glimpses of how good he can be last year in the playoffs and the Rangers certainly could benefit from him regaining that form.
1. Derek Stepan
I expected Derek Stepan to get off to a fast start, but I wasn’t shocked that he didn’t. Stepan has struggled to shake off the rust from his time away from the team while he was in contract disputes. Now, Stepan doesn’t have a choice but to elevate his game. The Rangers need a true playmaker and goal scorer now more than ever. Stepan is supposed to fill that void and he has to prove that he can. I thought Stepan played his best game of the season vs. the Capitals, so it would be very disappointing if he didn’t build off of that performance.