Callahan Looking Comfortable in Bolts Blue

Earlier this week, new Ducks forward Ryan Kesler admitted it took a period of transition to get used to putting on the orange-and-black jerseys in Anaheim following a long career in the Canucks blue. It might have been easier for right wing Ryan Callahan, after playing over seven seasons with the New York Rangers (AKA, the “Blueshirts”), to put on the Lightning jersey of the same color, but getting comfortable on the ice was a much longer road.

Following the March 2014 trade that sent him to the Sunshine State, Callahan put up a meager 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 20 games with Tampa Bay. While Callahan is more known for his gritty style of play than lighting the lamp, it was not a fair trade-off, with Art Ross Trophy winner and perpetual points leader Martin St. Louis heading the other way.

In his first full year as a member of the Lightning, however, things changed. Callahan has scored four goals and assisted on two others to put up six points in only seven games.

Callahan started the season off right with a goal in the Bolts’ opening game against the Florida Panthers that put the Lightning ahead in the third. By remaining near the goal crease, he was ready for a rebound that the Cats’ goalie Roberto Luongo could not control.

His first two-point game came on October 13 versus the Canadiens, a game many pegged as “retribution” after Tampa Bay’s sweep by Montreal in the 2014 playoffs. Callahan assisted on the first of what would become a hat trick for Stamkos, while adding a goal of his own in a 7-1 slaughter of the Habs.

On October 18, he first assisted on Stamkos’ tie-breaking goal before netting the game-winning goal late in the second period.

During the play, Callahan protected the puck well and kept cycling back to the front of the net, ready with the wrister that beat Canucks goalie Eddie Lack. Despite missing five games with a lower-body injury after leaving during the October 20 games versus Edmonton, Callahan did not lose a step upon his return.

Scoring the opening goal against a team with as much offensive talent as Washington was huge, especially as the Capitals are one of three teams in the NHL (Carolina and Buffalo are the others) without a win this season when giving up the first goal. Plus, it was an absolute beauty of a goal:

The between-the-legs deflection certainly fooled Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby. But Callahan got that goal in the same spot as so many others: by paying the price for playing in front of the goal.

Even before the game, Callahan spoke about his style of game, predicting the way the highlight reel goal would go in. “For me, I am just going to try and get some pucks, get in front of the net, create a little bit of havoc.”

It will be close to impossible for him to maintain his Perry-esque shooting percentage of 26.7%, especially as his highest percentage previously has been 12.8% in the 2010-2011 season. But serving on a line with Steven Stamkos as his center will definitely keep his numbers up.  Regardless of his ultimate points total, Ryan Callahan has definitely looked comfortable in a Lightning jersey.

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