Now that we’ve all had some time to digest the season opener, lets step back and try not to make ourselves too worried. This Rangers team is operating under a new coach. They don’t know his system well and lack continuity within it. While that should be enough to ease concerns about the poor outing last Thursday in Phoenix, remember that they also played without captain Ryan Callahan.
While he is not the highest paid or the superstar player on the team, Ryan Callahan is by far the most important. He exemplifies what a captain should be and makes the Rangers go.
Nothing against Henrik Lundqvist, but he’s only the most important to the team to the extent that he’s one of the top goaltenders on the planet. He is simply too good not to be so vital to the team’s success. However, as a goaltender, he doesn’t have the same relationship with the rest of the team to have the impact that Callahan does.
During the season opener, Cally’s absence was evident. The team lacked the injection of heart he brings to the lineup as well as his leadership skills.
There was one Ranger, however, who did step up for the team. A former captain himself, Rick Nash fought Martin Hanzal in defense of Derek Stepan. Even though the fight was towards the end of the game, it gave the team something to unite around and build on for the next outing. It appears that Nash is becoming more comfortable in his second season as a Ranger and only good can come from that.
Ryan Callahan is expected to return to the lineup Monday night in Los Angeles. While the Kings present the Rangers with a difficult task, look for the Rangers to play with a better sense of team and watch the captain make an impact.