The Broadway Blueshirts have the Broadway Blues as another major blow hit the New York Rangers this week. Captain Ryan Callahan’s injury, a broken thumb on his left hand he suffered while blocking a shot, could sideline him for up to a month, taking away the team’s best all-around player and its gritty heart and soul.
It’s a crushing loss for the Rangers who finally had something to feel good about following their shutout 2-0 victory against the Washington Capitals on October 16.
Callahan had a goal in the game, along with six shots, five hits, two blocked shots, one of which the aforementioned bearer of bad news, and over 22 minutes on the ice, the most Rangers forward in the game.
It was a typical Callahan performance, filling up a stat sheet while playing a vital role in every facet of the contest. He’s a great penalty killer, he provides energy, toughness and leadership, and he’s solid and ever-improving offensively, particularly around the net.
Starting the season with a 9-game road trip, the Rangers have staggered out of the gates, going just 2-4. But the big road win against the rival Capitals provided the team and its fans with a sense of optimism that they were on the cusp of turning things around. Callahan’s play a great deal to do with that, of course.
Beyond the road trip itself, the team has struggled to adjust to new coach Alain Vigneault’s system, has been porous defensively, and has been unable to generate consistent scoring chances. The team’s best pure scorer, Rick Nash, is already on the sidelines as he recovers from a concussion, and there’s no specific timetable for his return.
Henrik Lundqvist finally showed his true self against the Capitals, blanking them as he turned away all 22 shots he faced. The effort served to help boost his poor numbers on the young season — but he still has just a .902 save percentage and a 3.33 GAA.
The Rangers have three more road games before they will even get to skate on home ice for the first time, visiting the New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings before hosting the Montreal Canadiens on October 28.
That begins a 12-game stretch lasting through November 19 with nine games at home, which would be just over a month since the Callahan injury. Hopefully the fans at the Garden can help to right the ship for the Rangers over that span.
If they can claw their way out of this early hole and find a way to win games with Callahan and Nash watching from the luxury boxes in their suits, they’ll be a stronger team for it in the long run. Whether it’s veteran Brad Richards or young gun J.T. Miller, somebody has to step up and help to carry the club in the absence of those two stars. Lundqvist can’t do it all on his own, and the inconsistent defense hasn’t given him much of a chance to this point.
*This article was first published on Yahoo Sports on October 18, 2013.