Do The Rangers Rely Too Much On Callahan?

January 25, 2012, by

He sets the tone with his hustle and effort and leads with his desire and (growing) offensive ability, but do the Rangers rely too much on Ryan Callahan? It’s a worthwhile question, because during a period in which Callahan had been at his most ordinary (in a stretch prior to the Boston game) the Rangers went through their roughest patch since the start of the season. Coincidence?

Callahan has developed offensively to a point where he now literally does everything for the Rangers. He’s the team’s second most prolific goal scorer, he’s annually a league leader in hits, blocks countless of shots and plays in every single situation. We saw last year, when Callahan went down for an extended period of time, just how much the Rangers missed him. What is the remedy to the over reliance? Other players need to step up.

After a promising start to the campaign, more often than not Brad Richards has been a passenger. That is unacceptable for a man brought in to help lead the team to bigger things. Derek Stepan has cooled off considerably but, in all fairness, it’s too early to place too much pressure on the young sophomore. Brandon Dubinsky has been better but is clearly not the player this team needs him to be and then there are players such as Fedotenko and Brian Boyle who leave it all on the ice but at some point that is not enough. Anisimov? MIA.

It’s hard to be overly critical of a team that has the record the Rangers boast, however such is that record that the focus naturally switches to post-April potential. This Rangers team, without a better spread of production, cannot beat Boston over an extended series. If the Pens get healthy there’s a likelihood the Rangers struggle with their rivals in Pittsburgh as well.

With all due respect, when a solid journeyman like John Mitchell is one of your better players of late (3 points in 5) and you’re expecting too much from a talented but still rookie Carl Hagelin there’s an issue. If teams are able to shut down Marian Gaborik and then Ryan Callahan as well, Henrik Lundqvist has to be brilliant. It’s a good job he is just that.

Captain Cally is playing close to 21 minutes per game and given his style and reckless endeavour that’s possibly too much. Whether it’s through a transaction or changes in the line up several Rangers need to be better offensively. Not previously known for his offense (in the first instance) it may be a bad sign that the team is needing to rely on its heart and soul leader to score the big goals.


  1. Leatherneckinlv says:

    No they do not. Callahan does exactly as requested and some. He leads by example, chips in offensively and plays physical. However he is not our main piece. There are a few players who are our main piece and Cally is a part of that group. We need Richards to step up as the lines are reliant on how he performs. If he is going good then the entire forward group will fall into place. With our first line of Gaborik, and Stepan and add a left wing of Hagelin, or Anisimov the Rangers are 2/3rds of the way solid on the 1st line. With Richards struggling all the lines feel the effects of that as the players start to juggle from line to line. That is not good. Also the powerplay suffers as well from the lack of production from Richards there as well. The key player is Richards, not Callahan, Gaborik, Lundqvuist or Staal.

    • Chris says:

      Richards is obviously a key part to the puzzle but the point is, Callahan is almost needing to do more than expected.

      There’s nothing he doesn’t do.He shouldn’t be our second highest goal scorer and our most physical forward. In all honesty, going on pure talent alone he shouldn’t be on the PP but because he’s reliable, consistent, he gets the ice time there as well.

      I would love it if other players playing well meant Callahan playing 17-18 mins/night rather than 21. Lundqvist isn’t the only player that needs to be fresh at the critical part of the season.

      • Leatherneckinlv says:

        I agree, there is something wrong when Callahan is our second leading goal scorer. That man is a leader and sets the example with his heart and determination. On talent alone he should be a third liner yet he has overcome that with his desire.

      • scrangersfan says:

        I’am with you on all of the above Chris. IMO. Richard need to produce like an 8 million dollar per year player and the power play must improve drastickly or they will have a short playoff run.
        I’m really disappointed with Anisimov
        he was one player that I was looking forward to have a breakout year. I wonder what’s up with him.

      • Ray says:

        Agreed – Cally on talent alone should be a 3rd or even 4th liner. Its his heart and desire. Imagine if the rest of the team played like he does with the talent they have. We would be dominating and totally destroying other teams. Earth to DUBI !!!!! hello!!!!!!!!!!!!! How often last year were Cally and Dubi in the same sentence as the heart of this team??? Will the real Dubi please stand up, please stand up !!!!

  2. Justin says:

    Great post Chris…I think examining this possibility could also end up begging the question, “how long do we continue to put up with mediocre performances from top 6 players?” Anisimov and Dubinsky in particular.

    • RangerSmurf says:

      Acknowledging that neither Anisimov nor Dubinsky has had a year that lives up to expectations, I will point out this.

      Top 6 players x 30 teams = 180 players. By raw points, the 180th best forward has 19 points so far. By per game (which includes guys with 1-5 gm played because I’m too lazy to filter) it’s 0.50 per game, so 23 pts / 47 games.

      They fall just short (.48 per game each) by the second measure, and easily clear the 1st measure. Arguably their worst possible performance is still a bottom 2nd liner caliber.

      Both have to do more, no question about it. Yet, there has to be some realism set. If you have 6 guys on pace for 40 points (incl 4 on at least a 54 point pace), you’re in decent shape offensively.

      • Justin says:

        Excellent analysis Smurf, the only problem I have with your reasoning is that there are usually about half the league without a realistic shot of contending for the Cup in any given year. Since we greedy NY fans have our eyes set on the big prize, the numbers should be adjusted to reflect the top 6 of contending teams, not the whole league.

        Without running the numbers, I would assume Arty and Dubi would fall outside of that valuation. When assessing the requirements for our top 6, we need to have production that is more in line with “perennial contender” than “cinderella story” when it comes to playoff impact.

        • RangerSmurf says:

          I can do that too (not now), and I would want to look at it by P/60 in that case. Boston and Vancouver are incredible deep in that regard, but Anisimov’d still be right there as a top 6 w/ Detroit/St. Louis/Chicago/Pittsburgh, and that’s with him not scoring since the Nixon administration.

  3. opie says:

    no they don’t but they do Rely Too Much On the king with out him we probley are not a play=off team

  4. pavel says:

    I don’t think they rely on Callahan too much. I think they amazingly rely on Carl Hagelin and John Mitchell too much. I love the fact that our depth guys are winning a few games for us, but why do they need to be the best players on the team every night? I still think Richards will pick up his game, especially after getting the monkey off his back and scoring last night, but he needs to be better. Now.

  5. Zen says:

    We wouldn’t have to rely so much on Cally if Dubinsky could actually develop the way many want him to. Dubi is the other guy (of the young core) you would hope could pick up the slack.

  6. Walt says:

    They do rely on Callie too much!

    Now that I said that, look at Dubi, who I care for very much, he isn’t really a top six player. He got his break with Jagr needing a center who fed him all game long, and Gomez couldn’t get the job done. He was never a first line center, but we came to think of him that way.

    Now with the Kreider kid projected for next season, Dubi could do what he does best, PK, third line checker, drop the occasional gloves, and protect his team mates. There will be no pressure for him to score, and he will put together another 20+ goal season. Personally, I believe that he puts undue pressure on himself, and once that pressure is lightened up some, he will perform well, Callie will get less time on the ice, and the entire teams benefits from it.

    But then again, I could be wrong!!

  7. kgb16 says:

    The point about Callahan’s reckless play is well stated. I always have to hold my breath when he runs into a big guy, or blocks a shot, and last year’s injury was a severe blow, although Dubi did step it up a bit.

    I’d like somebody to give me one good reason why they expect BR to get any better. He’s got his big paycheck, he’s soft, has already won a cup and clearly is not the answer for our anemic power play. Am I missing something?

    • The Suit says:

      Richards will be fine. He was well paid in Dallas and that didn’t stop him from producing. He needs to play better sure, but it would also help if Dubi was Loui Eriksson.

      • Bill from Brookhaven says:

        Richards is a powerless forward! He is useless along the boards and cannot acquire the puck unlees its given to him by other players and his soft play has affected Cally plus/minus.Any line he is on has trouble exiting the defensive zone as he just seems to float around watching others fight along the boards.What a disappointment!

    • Blueshirt in Paris says:

      I think it was Elliot Freemen on CBC that looked at players on their 1st yr of FA signing. The majority of forwards all showed a decline in that first year. Defensemen less so.