Originally posted on Bleeding All Blue  |  Last updated 10/21/11

NEW YORK - JANUARY 25: Ryan Callahan #24 of the New York Rangers skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against on January 25, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Penguins defeated the Rangers 4-2. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images The New York Rangers had a number of questions that needed to be answered coming into the season, but few if any wondered about Ryan Callahan.  Callahan was named the 26th captain of the franchise because of his leadership, but also in part because his play epitomizes the identity the team strives to have.  The Rangers have failed to establish that same identity as last season or the same style of play and to see why you have to look no further than the play of Callahan himself. In the Rangers opener against the Kings Callahan played his type of game and had a huge impact recording an important goal to help spark a lifeless team and recording a tremendous 11 shots on goal.  Since then his game has seemingly declined and his impact has been non-existent in the outcome of games, which is not what the Rangers need from his both as their captain and as a player who was given a new contract based on last year’s production.  The question has to be asked; What is wrong with Ryan Callahan? The two easiest theories revolve around Callahan either nursing some sort of injury that is not being publicly talked about or that he is simply pressing trying to live up to his contract/being named captain.  Playing through an injury is the one that many will naturally gravitate to because his lack of impact both on the scoresheet and in the regular flow of the game.  Injury could be why he does does not seem to be forechecking quite the same way he has his entire career, throwing his body around with reckless abandon, but there doesn’t seem to be an obvious ailment.  Callahan pressing over the contract or being elevated to captain of the team is a natural concern that you have with all players trying to prove they deserve what the organization gave them.  Solving that can be more difficult because it is purely mental as all Callahan has to do to prove he is worthy of both the contract and the captaincy is play Ryan Callahan hockey.  Gripping the stick tighter is not going to make the puck go in.  Looking for the perfect pass or shot is not going get more points in the boxscore or end of season stat count.  Play the same honest hockey that he has played his entire career and the results will be there.  Beyond those two main theories the most noticeable issue for Callahan appears to be him misreading the play significantly more often than we normally see from Callahan. Against Calgary there was a prime example as Brandon Dubinsky drove the zone and fired a backhander toward the net leading to a rebound right out front, but instead of Callahan crashing the net as he typically does he was still in the slot allowing Calgary to clear the puck out of danger.  There were other plays where on odd-man rushes he was the one drifting to the wing while letting Ryan McDonagh be the one driving hard to the net.  All of these types of things are unlike Callahan and the way he has always played.  An interesting idea that is pure speculation on my part is if Callahan is playing a slightly different game this year because he doesn’t want to get hurt and miss significant time like last season.  The worth of Callahan to the lineup is massive as was seen in his absence during the playoffs and it is the double edged sword when discussing him.  The Rangers need him to play with that reckless disregard for his own health while on the ice, but they also need him to stay healthy and the way he plays (blocking shots, delivering hits), at his best, lends itself to him getting injured. Those expecting Callahan to continue last seasons .8 point per game pace were always likely to be disappointed because of how drastically it differed from his prior statistical output, but those will more reasonable expectations of 25-30 goals and 55 points will likely get what they are looking for when the season is over. Whatever the issue is for Ryan Callahan over the past few games, the New York Rangers need him to figure it out quick or they are going to continue to struggle to find their stride as a team, instead relying on Henrik Lundqvist to save them long enough for the team to steal some points.


GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Tyler Eifert says he will never play in the Pro Bowl again

Australian athletes evacuate the Olympic village after fire

Russian weightlifting team banned from Rio

Wade says Riley did not push him out of Miami

Nationals among multiple teams inquiring on Mark Melancon

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

McClain does not show up for Cowboys’ training camp

Andre Johnson agrees to two-year deal with Titans

Redskins GM injures hand punching wall in frustration

Report: Aldon Smith checks into rehab

McCarthy discusses 'urgency’ to win another title with Rodgers

Report: Lions extend CB Darius Slay with $50 million deal

Storyline from 'Ballers' plays out in Cowboys preseason camp

Texas A&M creates a very sexist version of their fight song for women

Brown, Marshall are apparently serious about their car bet

Lacy, Starks could split carries to start season

Cyborg Santos post-surgery skull photos are eerie

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Hockey team unveils Clinton, Trump bobbleheads

Bennett compares chemistry with Pats QBs to his love life

Crowell still making amends for controversial Instagram post

Report: LeBron urged Justin Bieber not to perform at RNC

Luck refutes Matt Hasselbeck’s assertion he never showers

Newspaper editor explains use of Jordan meme for MJ article

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker