With the playoffs in full swing, and the Rangers off to a 1-0 series lead, everyone is talking about the usual suspects.
You could look at Henrik Lundqvist who has been the man in the spotlight after his supernatural performance in Game 1. He made 32 saves, many of them mind-blowing, and he kept the Rangers in a game in which they were outworked and overwhelmed for extended periods of time.
We could cite Scott Gomez—a goal and two assists in game 1—who had probably his best game as a Ranger. He was flying all night, carried the puck into the offensive zone constantly, and had some great shots.
You could even argue that Markus Naslund and Nik Antropov were both heroes, with a goal and an assist each. You could also point out that Wade Redden was a hero for not royally screwing up—or scoring in his own net.
But I want to talk about Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky. In Game One Dubinsky played in Chris Drury’s spot on the second line and I honestly couldn’t tell the different between the two. Dubinsky had a goal and was a plus 1 in just under 17 minutes of ice time; oh yeah, and the goal was a game winner.
Ryan Callahan wasn’t on the score sheet last night but he had 7 hits, 2 shots and 2 posts in over 20 minutes of ice time. He was out in the final minutes and dove, leading with his head, to block an Ovechkin shot. You wanna talk about guts? I know guys in tanks who wouldn’t wander in front of a shot like that. If you want to talk about giving all you have for your team: if you go into the Verizon Center right now you will probably find Callahan’s heart somewhere on the ice … beating.
Whether you wanna talk about heroes of the game or heroes of the season, both names come up for the Rangers. And they should; the two have been attached at the hip since they started playing for the big club for stints last season. Both are fully home grown New York Ranger talent, and both have the ability and potential to be incredible superstars. Callahan had a breakout year in the 08-09 season scoring 22 goals and adding 18 assists for 40 points. Dubinsky had a subpar year points-wise putting up 13 goals and 28 assists for 41 points—just one more point than last year’s total—but he has made strides in his hockey smarts to the point where Tortorella uses him in basically every situation.
So is it a surprise that both were so influential in last night’s game? To Washington fans perhaps, but to those of you whom root for the Blueshirts their success is no surprise. Although Callahan didn’t put up any points in game one let’s be honest, he was 6 inches away from turning game one into Ryan Callahan night. But since he didn’t finish those two shots it was Dubinsky who gets the game winner honors, and there truly isn’t anyone more deserving. Well … except for maybe Ryan Callahan.
So we can all hope to see both of them continue to flourish and play well in the playoffs. Especially since the New York Rangers playoff success might be directly tied into how well those two Rangers play from here on out. And as they have shown us all season, they can totally handle that kinda pressure.