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Callahan keeps level head despite offensive struggles

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Callahan keeps level head despite offensive struggles
The goal-starved Rangers captain isn't giving in to frustration, instead choosing to focus on making sure he plays a solid two-way game.

NEW YORK -- A goal-starved Ryan Callahan isn't giving in to the temptation for frustration. He says he can't, or it will affect him in other areas of his game.

"It's part of it," Callahan said following the Rangers' morning skate Monday at Madison Square Garden in advance of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. "You're going to go through stretches, and obviously this time of year you don't want to be going through that, but I think those are the times that you have to make sure that on the other side of the puck you're doing everything you can to be at your best. That's how you break it."

Callahan scored an empty-net goal to cap off the Rangers' 3-0 win in Game 3 Saturday that gave them a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series against the New Jersey Devils. It was only his fourth goal in 17 playoff games after he scored 29 in 82 regular season games. He had three points through four games against Ottawa in the first round, but has just five points in the last 13 games.

Ryan Callahan
Ryan Callahan
Right Wing - NYR
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 8
SOG: 46 | +/-: 2
Rangers coach John Tortorella knows "it's killing" Callahan that he's not scoring a lot in these playoffs, but he also believes "he's close" to breaking out.

"There's a fine line there," Tortorella said. "He cares, and he wants to help. But, again, he's in a good situation here. He'll find a way."

Tortorella also said Callahan may have to "get out of his own way, because I think he cares so much he's in his own way."

That much is true.

Callahan so desperately wants to score to help the Rangers, but it's easier for him to automatically forget about, oh say, getting stone-cold robbed by Martin Brodeur in the second period of Game 3, because the Rangers are winning games. They are only two wins shy of reaching the Stanley Cup Final heading into Game 4 at Prudential Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"It's a lot harder when you're losing games and you're not producing offensively than if you're winning," Callahan said.

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If Callahan is frustrated, Rangers forward Mike Rupp told NHL.com he's doing a heck of a job hiding it.

"He's not a guy ever slamming anything or yelling. He just tries to work harder," Rupp said. "I haven't noticed any frustration in his game. You never see him cheating to get a scoring chance.

"Obviously he's been able to score quite often for us this year, but I think he understands the foundation of his game is more than that and the scoring is just extra," Rupp continued. "The way he plays, you're going to get chances and you just keep going about it. You have to ask him if he's thinking about it that way, but he sure looks like he addresses it that way."

Rupp is bang on.

"You just gotta keep working, keep pounding away," Callahan said. "It's the other parts of your game that you have to concentrate on, and if you do I think that eventually it'll break, you'll start to feel good about yourself, get that goal and then it opens up from there."

Callahan did get a goal in Game 3. Sure, it was into an empty-net late in the third period, but it was a goal nonetheless.

Tortorella said it may just be the thing to get him going. At least, that's what he and the Rangers are hoping for.

"You never know, you get an open-net goal like that, you never know what that does for you," Tortorella said. "I've seen it before; a guy takes off. That's what we're hoping will happen with him."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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