Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Where's the Love?

On February 3rd Adam Graves' #9 will hit the Garden rafters, joining his 1994 Stanley Cup teammates Mike Richter, the Gary Coleman-loving Mark Messier, and Brian Leetch. Call it coincidence, but Graves 2k8 has emerged on the notoriously awful Garden ice wearing #24.

Ryan Callahan has been the most consistent Rangers forward so far this season. I dare you to argue. Consistency doesn't always mean that you have to put the puck in the net every game.

Consistency means that you show up every game and make yourself effective in every area of the rink. If you can point out a player who has displayed more tenacity, more will, and more heart in every game this season for the Rangers, I'll show you my prepubescent "cooking show" that I made for English class in 7th grade (for the record, my homemade potato chips were a thing of beauty).

With his heart on his sleeve, Callahan has played every shift like it is his last and is a constant force around the net. At only 5'11" and 185 pounds, the man is fearless and effective when throwing his weight around. If only I could say the latter for another player with similar size.

Not only is he a player who will stand up for teammates, and skate his guts out every time he spills over the boards, but the guy can actually score. He's got a quick pair of hands and a great shot to boot. He is not flashy. He doesn't have the puck carrying grace or public wit that Scott Gomez has, but he is starting to find his game and is due to break out at any moment.

Adam Graves was a player built in the same mold as Callahan (they are actually almost the same size too). Graves put up very small numbers offensively in his first five years, but then erupted once he donned Rangers blue. This is Callahan's second full season in the NHL and he has proven that he is a sniper at the AHL level. Of course, just because you score at the AHL level doesn't necessarily mean it will translate in the NHL, but by watching Callahan on a consistent basis you'll soon see why I consider him the best Rangers forward up to this point. As he continues to grow in this league, he will develop into - at the very least - a terrific 2nd line winger. His hockey IQ simply won't let him be anything less than that.

He doesn't get much attention from the media and hockey "experts," but that just helps him fly under the radar and maybe will give him a New York Giants mentality. Is it a guarantee that Callahan becomes what I say he will be? Well, I'm not considered an "expert," and we all know they always get it right.

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