|Captain Cally: Ranger captain Ryan Callahan celebrates his power play goal.
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Without question, the glue of this team is Ryan Callahan. The 27th captain in Rangers history personifies who they are. He is the unquestioned leader of our team. They follow his lead, giving up their bodies. That’s the fabric of this town. Gritty. Physical. Determined. The Right Way.
In tonight’s 2-1 win over the Flyers, the Rangers might’ve lost their captain for an unknown time period. Fittingly, Captain Cally delivered the game-winner. A power play goal from where else but right in front of the net. He finished off his second goal of the year on a sweet feed from Mike Del Zotto. Both of his goals have come on the power play. Doing the dirty work.
It was early in the third period when Callahan and Max Talbot went at it during a scrum. The Flyer pest tugged at Cally’s arm. Making matters worse, he continued to pull away as he lost balance. Afterwards, Callahan skated off to the locker room. He didn’t return. An apparent shoulder injury has Garden Faithful concerned. It might be a separation. If it is, it would be a huge blow. For right now, there’s nothing new to report. We’ll have to keep our fingers crossed.
As for the game, the Rangers held on for a one-goal triumph against a classic rival. It was their second straight win. If they prevail against the Penguins on Thursday, that’s called a winning streak. Cue the theme from Major League. The positive is that they evened up their record (3-3-0), giving themselves a shot to run the table at home. The Pens aren’t exactly lighting it up. They were humiliated by the Islanders 4-1 on home ice.
Last year when I worked the night shift, our team fared well. For a second straight game, that trend continued. Getting the early goal text that Del Zotto scored was cool. He took a Benn Ferriero pass and fired an unscreened shot past Ilya Bryzgalov. Maybe he lost it in the lights. It wouldn’t be the first time. Nevertheless, Del Zotto’s first put the Rangers in front 1:57 in. Ferriero intercepted a Flyer turnover and recorded his first point in Ranger blue. So far, so good.
Midway through the second, a Talbot penalty resulted in Callahan’s PPG. It was a great play started by Rick Nash, who drew attention. He touched a pass to a cutting Del Zotto who in turn fed for an isolated Cally who scored the hockey version of a slam dunk. A great example of Nash’s size and skillset creating havoc. If Callahan is gone for an extended period, you know who they’ll look to for leadership.
Leading 2-zip, the Blueshirts lost discipline in the third. Eventually, the Flyers cashed in to make it a game. When I checked my phone to see a goal from Flyer defenseman Kimmo Timonen, I wasn’t surprised. What would an easy night be like for this team? They like to do things the hard way. Wayne Simmonds got to a loose puck in the corner and set up an unguarded Timonen, who blasted one by Henrik Lundqvist. It was the only goal the King Of Manhattan allowed.
In his sixth consecutive start, Lundqvist was strong finishing with 26 saves. He’s stopped 72 of his last 77 shots. That’s more like it.
The Rangers had to kill two late penalties to earn the win. They went five for six on the PK, including a crucial one on a Flyer two-man advantage. The lazy penalties need to stop. Stay out of the box and we have a better chance of winning. Decline power plays. Send out a winning text when I finish my shift. A team tradition.
BONY 3 Stars:
3rd Star-Benn Ferriero, NYR (assist-do the little things and Tort loves you)
2nd Star-Ryan Callahan, NYR (power play goal-2nd, emotional leader)
1st Star-Mike Del Zotto, NYR (goal, beautiful helper on Cally’s winner)