‘Rangers Inside And Out’
By Sean Hartnett
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Much of that credit is due to backup goaltender Cam Talbot’s steadiness. The 26-year-old rookie appeared on course to shut out the league’s highest-scoring team until Peter Regin ended Talbot’s shutout bid with 11.8 seconds remaining in regulation.
A late save on star sniper Patrick Kane allowed Talbot and the Rangers to exhale and celebrate a hard-fought victory after some tense final seconds.
“It felt like the longest 11 seconds in the world,” Talbot said. “I didn’t think they were going to get down the ice that quick.”
The nervy finish seemed appropriate, as Rangers fans are anxious over the futures of energetic captain Ryan Callahan and stalwart defenseman Dan Girardi.
It’s understood that Rangers general manager Glen Sather would deal away either player before next week’s March 5 trade deadline if extensions are not agreed on in the coming days. Sather cannot allow either player to simply walk away from the organization without compensation, as they can explore unrestricted free agency and sign with another team if they’re not dealt.
GIRARDI HOPEFUL EXTENSION WILL BE COMPLETED IN NEXT FEW DAYS
After Thursday’s victory, Girardi stood at his locker stall and appeared positive that his representatives at Newport Sports will be able to strike an agreement with the Rangers in the near future.
“We’ll see what happens,” Girardi said. “We’ll be working here in the next few days, hopefully, and try to bang something out here, but in the meantime I’ll just be all business and go about my job.”
Girardi is reportedly seeking a six-year deal worth $5.5 million per year. It’s a market-fair deal and one that many teams would be willing to offer a defenseman of Girardi’s caliber if he were to reach free agency.
It’s extremely difficult to replace a reliable right-handed defenseman who typically logs 22 to 27 minutes per game and has only missed a total of four regular-season games in the past seven seasons.
Every night, Girardi absorbs a grueling physical toll. He willingly blocks shots with gusto and is sometimes on the receiving end of high sticks, elbows and all kinds of punishment from opponents. Girardi takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
On Thursday, Girardi was on the ice for 22:59. He took 34 shifts, delivered four hits, blocked five shots and was a plus-two.
Girardi also played a tremendous role in successfully killing all five Blackhawks power plays.
It appears that Girardi’s minute-eating durability and dirty work will soon earn him a hefty raise and the long-term security of remaining with the Rangers, which he desires.
Girardi has been reasonable with his contract demands. The same cannot be said of Callahan. Girardi and Callahan have played together since their junior days with the Guelph Storm.
The closely-knit duo rooms together on the road and carpools together to practice. Callahan and Girardi are an inseparable pair on and off the ice, but there’s a likelihood that the duo will be broken up before next Wednesday’s trade deadline.
That’s because Callahan is yet to budge from his well-known demand of a seven-year contract worth in excess of $6.5 million per year. He’s previously indicated that he wishes to remain with the Rangers, but his resolute stance in negotiations is essentially pushing him out of New York.
The Rangers’ captain did not speak to the media after Thursday’s victory. Callahan said he did not want to discuss his situation after Wednesday’s morning skate.
Follow Sean on Twitter @HartnettHockey.
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