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Callahan wills himself back to practice

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

Tortorella Post-Practice Remarks on Monday Watch
Monday's Post-Practice Player Interviews Watch

By Jim Cerny,

Rangers head coach John Tortorella said if Ryan Callahan, right, feels ready to play on Tuesday night in Buffalo, there's no way he'll keep the hard-working alternate captain out of his lineup.
When the Rangers returned to practice Monday morning following Sunday’s day off, there was a pleasant surprise awaiting the club. Alternate captain Ryan Callahan caught his teammates and head coach off guard by taking part in the practice, his first time back on skates since re-injuring his left knee in a game against the Devil on March 25.

“We didn’t expect that when we came in this morning,” said Rangers head coach John Tortorella. “(Callahan) has got a mental toughness about him that is second to none. I really believe that you can will yourself to get better quicker, and that’s what that guy is about.”

After practice Callahan expressed how pleased he was with how well his knee responded. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Callahan plans to skate Tuesday morning in Buffalo and, conceivably, could return to the lineup that same evening against the Sabres when the Rangers look for their fourth consecutive victory.

“If Cally can play, he’s playing,” Tortorella said.

Callahan, who grew up in Rochester and attended many Sabres games as a youngster, has been maintaining his conditioning the past two weeks with extensive off-ice workouts. He also has been playing the role of proud teammate watching from the sidelines as the Rangers have posted a 3-0-1 mark in the four games he has missed.

“They’ve been playing unbelievable,” Callahan said of the team. “It’s been fun to watch. Obviously I’d rather be on the ice, but I think the guys have responded well with some guys out. And our leadership core has really led the way.”

Boyle tests his ankle on ice

Another injured forward was back on the ice Monday morning, albeit only after his teammates had finished practice and headed to the locker room.

Brian Boyle, who has been sidelined six games with an injured ankle, skated by himself following practice. He gingerly made some sharp turns and worked on his puck handling before the club headed to the airport for a flight to Buffalo.

Boyle is still listed as “day-to-day” by the club, as is winger Sean Avery, who continues to work out off-ice and has yet to skate since hurting his knee in Toronto on March 27.

Weise takes part in practice

Second-year pro Dale Weise practiced with the club today after being recalled from Hartford on Sunday. The 21-year-old Weise alternated line rushes with Callahan alongside Chris Drury and Aaron Voros.

Weise, who has recorded 28 goals and 49 points at Hartford this season, took the roster spot of Corey Locke, who had skated in each of the previous three games before being returned to the Wolf Pack on Sunday.

“(Weise) is a bigger body,” Tortorella said of the 6-foot-2, 202 pound forward. “Plus he’s a winger and I can bounce (Drury) back to center. In my mind it’s not about development, it’s about trying to win a hockey game, and this is the next guy being given a chance to help us do that.”
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