With just under two minutes to go in a thrilling, come-from-behind victory, all seemed perfect at Madison Square Garden for the New York Rangers and their ecstatic fans.
That was until Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara stepped into a blistering slapshot that Rangers winger Ryan Callahan fearlessly threw himself in front of.
A broken right leg for Callahan, shutting him down for the remainder of the season, and a broken sense of hope for Rangers fans.
Callahan, who has morphed into the leader of the present and the future for the Blueshirts, will be missed for the final two games of the regular season and for however long the Rangers can withstand the playoff race.
Despite missing 19 games earlier in the season with a broken hand stemming from another blocked shot in mid-December, Callahan was enjoying a career-year in production, as he was second on the team in points with 48.
Callahan, who plays the game with as much grit and heart as anyone in the NHL, is no stranger to blocking shots, as he leads all forwards on the Rangers and is fifth in the NHL with 77.
“You can’t really say enough good things about him as a player and as a person and as a leader in this organization,” said the Rangers “official” captain, Chris Drury to reporters. “We’re going to miss him, and miss him a lot. He plays in every situation and does all the little things, does all the big things. He’s just been great. He’s going to be a big loss for us.”
Although Drury is officially listed as the Rangers captain, it’s hard to look any further than Callahan when thinking of the heir apparent to the “C” for the Blueshirts–assuming he returns.
Losing Callahan is an extreme blow to anything the Rangers might try and accomplish this postseason. However, it’s not the first time head coach John Tortorella and the Rangers would have to overcome injury adversity this season.
Callahan’s second broken bone is just another line on the laundry list of Rangers’ injuries this season.
The Rangers didn’t have to wait long for their injury woes to begin, as both Vinny Prospal and Chris Drury were injured before the season even began.
Prospal missed the first 53 games of the season recovering from knee surgery, while Drury has only been able to play in 23 games due to several injuries, the latest stemming from knee surgery in February.
Besides Drury and Prospal, several of the off-season signings for the Rangers this past summer have missed significant time, as well. Alex Frolov, Derek Boogaard and Martin Biron were all shut down for the season due to injury, while Ruslan Fedotenko missed 16 games with a shoulder injury.
Star winger Marian Gaborik’s injury-plagued past came back to haunt him this season, too. The Rangers’ biggest offensive threat separated his shoulder on just the third game of the season, sidelining him for the next 12 games. Gaborik also missed another eight games due to a concussion and the flu.
Callahan, who is in the final year of a two-year, $4.6 million contract, is set to become a restricted free agent this summer; one of many expiring contracts for the Rangers to handle.