Originally posted on FOX Sports  |  Last updated 3/24/12
New York Rangers captain Ryan Callahan's all-out style of play creates a lot of positive outcomes for his team. Blocking shots, giving and taking hits, and gung-ho trips to the front of the net and the corners all serve to inspire teammates and win games. But Callahan's game does not necessarily lend itself to staying healthy for an entire season. Bruises and broken bones are among the results of constantly blocking shots in the NHL. That creates a sort of catch-22 for the Rangers, because a major part of Callahan's value lies in his all-out style of play. But when that style lands him out of the lineup, the Rangers miss their fearless leader dearly. Compounding the dilemma is the fact that Callahan has emerged as an offensive force in his sixth NHL season. So not only does the team miss his contribution with the so-called "little things," but the goal-starved Rangers also badly need Callahan's scoring acumen. The captain, who turned celebrated his 27th birthday on Wednesday with an overtime game-winner against Detroit at home, has already set career highs in goals (27) and points (51), heading into Saturday's game against the Leafs. Callahan has played in 67 of the Rangers' 74 games this season, after dressing in 60 and 77 games in the previous two years. But Callahan has clearly earned coach John Tortorella's respect, enough to have been named the team's captain last summer. And it seems impossible that Tortorella would encourage the winger to play any style but the one that has cemented his role in the NHL. And the coach has not been shy about praising his winger. Tortorella told reporters Callahan was the team's "best player," throughout the win over Detroit. And earlier in the season, Tortorella weighed in on the captain's recently displayed offensive prowess. "I think sometimes people think he's just a shot-blocker and a guy who can bang along the boards and forecheck and finish checks," Tortorella told reporters after a win over the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden in February. "I think Cally has a little bit of a chip on his shoulder that everybody thinks he's a one-dimensional guy. He isn't. As he keeps growing as a player, he's certainly showing that." Callahan's game has grown in the 2011-12 season. To the point that the Rangers can hardly imagine life without him.
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