Sunday's 5-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins was not the first time youngsters Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky have led the team to victory in a game of great importance this season. Callahan, age 25, and Dubinsky, age 24, have taken on new leadership roles this year, not only in the locker room and on the bench, but out on the ice as well. Several times, specifically when the team was suffering through major injuries back in October and November, they've taken the team on their shoulders and led by example. That's just what you saw Sunday afternoon.
Callahan has battled through some injuries of his own this season, but that has not stopped him. In the 38 games that he has played, he's recorded 14 goals and a total of 28 points. Now obviously there are a lot of things Ryan does that go unnoticed on the scoresheet that we cannot neglect either, but those are some impressive numbers considering he was out of the lineup for a good deal of time with a broken hand. If he hadn't been, Cally would be on pace for about 30 goals this season.
Sunday's three point effort was exactly what Callahan is all about. His gritty playing style put him in the dirty areas of the ice, which is exactly where he was for his first goal as well as his assist. At the time of his first goal, the Rangers were still down by one but had the momentum after Brian Boyle had scored to make it a 2-1 game. It is very unlike the Blueshirts to capitalize on a chance to actually get that tying goal before the buzzer, but Callahan managed to find a way regardless, and did so by doing something not all players are willing to do; go to the net. Again, that's leading by example.
On his second goal coming in the second period, he wasn't necessarily in a dirty area of the ice, but rather along the boards where he blasted a slap shot by Marc-Andre Fleury. However, guess who was in front screening the goalie? That's right, his partner in crime: Brandon Dubinsky.
Continue reading after the jump....
It was only recently that Dubinsky regained his legs since returning from injury back on February 1. Before that, though, he was on a tear and leading the team in scoring by a large margin. In the meantime Brian Boyle has tied him for the lead in goals, but Dubinsky still has sole possession of the scoring title at the moment. In a year where I think it was make or break for Dubi, he has stepped up and made the most of his opportunities and maybe even has exceeded some expectations.
Much like Callahan, Dubinsky does a lot of things away from the puck to make an impact even when he is not scoring. He always takes the body, he's the first player to stick up for Henrik Lundqvist after the whistle and the effort is almost always there. And obviously as you saw Sunday on Callahan's goal, he does not shy away from going to the net and causing havoc for the opposing goaltender.
I've said it before and I will say it again: Callahan and Dubinsky are the Rangers' version of the Sedin twins. They are stronger when in the lineup together than they are alone. They may not have to play on the same line, but having them both in the lineup executing similar tasks and providing a spark to the squad absolutely makes the Blueshirts a much better team and gives them a greater chance of winning. All you have to do is look back to this weekend's win over the Pens, which was one of the more important games that this team will play all season. By no surprise, Callahan and Dubinsky (or as you guys have called them "Duballahan") led the team to the two points.
Re-signing these two will be GM Glen Sather's number one priority during the upcoming off-season.