Rangers

Hartnett: Rangers Must Prove They’re Strong Enough To Survive Injury Hell

Blueshirts Lose Callahan While Nash And Hagelin Remain On IR
Ryan Callahan (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Ryan Callahan (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

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‘Rangers Inside And Out’
By Sean Hartnett
» More Columns

Throughout Wednesday’s dominant victory over the Washington Capitals, captain Ryan Callahan was an ever-present force for the Rangers.

On Thursday evening, the Rangers announced the discouraging news that their heart-and-soul captain is expected to miss three-to-four weeks due to a broken thumb. Versatile forward and penalty-kill specialist Darroll Powe has been called up to fill Callahan’s roster spot.

There are few players in the NHL who handle as much heavy lifting for one team as Callahan does for the Rangers.

Callahan was everywhere the Rangers needed to him to be in Wednesday night’s 2-0 victory at Verizon Center. The 28-year-old winger constantly found open patches of ice to get on the end of tape-to-tape passes delivered by linemate Brad Richards. Callahan was able to score a stylish second-period highlight-reel goal, batting the puck out of the air past Caps netminder Braden Holtby.

Every night, Callahan throws himself around like a wrecking ball, delivering checks of a player larger than his 5-foot-11 stature would suggest.

Callahan’s boundless energy inspires teammates to raise their own competitive levels to match the output of their fearless captain. He kills penalties with gusto, and constantly throws himself in front of speeding-bullet shots. Callahan has delivered a team-leading 15 hits and tops all Rangers forwards with eight blocked shots.

That reckless abandon style has resulted in Callahan’s broken thumb, as he broke it blocking a shot on Wednesday night.

Callahan is an irreplaceable presence in the Rangers’ lineup. It’s up to the 2-4-0 Blueshirts to pull together while Callahan, scoring ace Rick Nash and speedy winger Carl Hagelin are unable to suit up for their latest stretch of games.

Nash has been out since suffering a concussion on October 8 in San Jose. There isn’t a timetable for Nash’s return date.

However, there is more encouraging news regarding Hagelin’s shoulder injury.

HAGELIN CLEARED FOR CONTACT

Hagelin was cleared for contact by the Rangers ahead of Friday’s practice and took part in on-ice contact drills during Friday’s practice session.

The 25-year-old winger is currently on the long-term injured reserve (LTIR). Hagelin is not eligible to come off the LTIR until October 29.

This means that Hagelin will miss the Rangers’ next four games, including the October 28 home opener against the Montreal Canadiens. If Hagelin is fully recovered on October 29, he will be able to make his season debut against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.

TALBOT DEMOTION IS TEMPORARY

The Rangers sent down goaltender Cam Talbot on Thursday, calling up monster-sized 6-foot-8, 220-pound Hartford Wolf Pack goalie Jason Missiaen. The demotion will only be temporary, as the Rangers want Talbot to continue seeing game action in the AHL.

Missiaen will serve as backup for Henrik Lundqvist on Saturday when the Rangers travel to Prudential Center to face the rival Devils. Talbot will play back-to-back AHL games this weekend against the Manchester Monarchs and Portland Pirates.

Expect Talbot to receive a quick recall following this weekend’s stint in the AHL. He will eventually start a game for the Rangers in the near future, allowing Lundqvist to catch a breather.

Follow Sean on Twitter @HartnettHockey.

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