How Important Is Ryan Callahan's Offense?

Feb. 25, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Ryan Callahan (24) scores the game-winning goal on Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (30) during overtime at Madison Square Garden. Rangers won in overtime, 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

Wednesday it was announced that New York Rangers captain Ryan Callahan would be day-to-day with a bruised foot. In the hours before that announcement Rangers fans held their collective breath hoping it wasn't something more serious. The injury shouldn't require more than a couple of days off, but it was serious enough to keep him out of Friday's matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Which got me thinking, does the Rangers offense revolve around Callahan?

He is already putting up career numbers (he has a career high 25 goals and is just one point from his career high, which is 48), but is it more than the numbers? You see, Callahan isn't just the second highest goal scorer on the Rangers (Marian Gaborik leads the way with 30) but he has been scoring big goals. Whenever the Rangers have needed a big goal this season, Callahan has been there to deliver.

Join me after the jump for more.

After Gaborik and Callahan, Brad Richards is the next highest goal scorer with 18. From there the total dips to 13 (Derek Stepan), then to 12 (Artem Anisimov), 11 (Carl Hagelin) and then seven (Michael Del Zotto and Ruslan Fedotenko).

The reality of the situation is that the Rangers will probably finish the season with two 30-goal scorers (Gaborik and Callahan -- although Gaborik could hit 40) and one twenty goal scorer (Richards, although Stepan can hit that plateau as well).

Thats a big different from the days when Callahan was just providing hustle plays and chipping in around 20 goals a year as the team's main source of secondary scoring.

Callahan isn't secondary scoring anymore, he's primary scoring along with Gaborik and Richards. And many of his 25 goals have been vital ones.

Callahan and Richards lead the team with seven game-winning goals each. Gaborik is right behind them with six and the next highest total is three (Stepan). Callahan has come alive in huge matchups (the hat trick over the Philadelphia Flyers), when the team has badly needed a win (the jaw-dropping overtime goal against the Buffalo Sabres) and when the team needs to put a game away (the empty net goal against the New Jersey Devils).

The Rangers looked OK without Callahan in Thursday's 3-2 victory over the Hurricanes. The Rangers scored three unanswered goals in the win, with Gaborik, Anisimov and Brandon Prust all lighting the lamp and Stepan notching two assists. While the power play didn't score, it did look dangerous but you would have to believe a healthy Callahan would have made it lethal instead.

What Callahan provides (along with Richards) is a secondary threat for other team's defenses to cope with when the Rangers don't have their first line on the ice. That's a luxury this team hasn't had for a long time, especially when guys like Hagelin, Anisimov and Stepan are chipping in (along with half the defense) for even more production.

Yes, there have been other contributors as well, but with the way the Rangers offense has been going you would have to say it revolves around Callahan, no?

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