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Monday Morning Skate: Callahan Returns Tonight vs. Ducks

by Jim Cerny / New York Rangers

Cleared by doctors on Sunday to return to game action, that's exactly what Ryan Callahan will do Monday night when the Rangers host the Anaheim Ducks at Madison Square Garden. Callahan, who has missed a bit less than less three weeks after breaking his thumb blocking a shot against the Washington Capitals on October 16th, will play against the Ducks as the Rangers seek to extend their season-best winning streak to four straight games.

"I only missed two weeks and a bit so I feel like I am ahead of the game from where I started the season," explained Callahan following Monday's morning skate. "I love playing at home, and I am excited to get back in there."

Callahan missed all of pre-season and the first game of the regular season in Phoenix following off-season shoulder surgery. He was finding his stride with three goals in two games at the time of his injury against Washington. Despite playing in only five games this season, Callahan is tied for second on the team with three goals---two behind Brad Richards who has five. His two power play goals are tops on the team, too.

"He's the captain of this team, an emotional player who plays big minutes---power play, penalty killing, 5-on-5---brings a physical dimension, is not a big player but plays big, so we're real happy to have him back," stated head coach Alain Vigneault on Monday morning.

"It's great having Cally back out on the ice, but it's big having him here in the room, too, because he is such a positive guy, so well respected," added defenseman Michael Del Zotto.

Vigneault said that 20 year-old forward J.T. Miller likely will be the healthy scratch tonight to make room for Callahan in the lineup.The head coach stated that he thought Miller had a "tough game" Saturday against the Hurricanes, though he said he not completely made up his mind as to which forward would be scratched this evening. Injured forward Dominic Moore and Rick Nash remain out of the lineup.

A win tonight would lift the Rangers back to .500 for the first time since the second game of the season, a modest goal, but a goal nonetheless according to Callahan, who also reflected Monday on his team's ugly 6-0 loss to these very same Ducks out in Anaheim.

"Last time we played them it was an embarrassing game for us," Callahan said. "I thought, though, at the end of that road trip and now playing at home we found ourselves a bit, came together as a team, got used to the systems. We're starting to play the way we want to, so we have to continue that and continue to get better, also."


The feeling in the visitors locker room is that the Ducks are expecting a different team than the one they saw on Oct. 10 in Anaheim. Since the 6-0 loss, the Rangers are 4-4, including winning three straight entering tonight's game.

"Any time you get embarrassed as a team, you're going to want to respond," said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. "I know it was a little while ago and they're a different hockey team, we've just got to be ready to go in the first period."

Getzlaf, who has six goals and 16 points in 15 games this season, said the goal at the start is to diffuse New York's start.

"We've got to be prepared," he said. "We haven't done a great job in our last three hockey games where we came out a little bit flat in the first period. We can't afford that tonight."

Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau said that while he does have a starter between the pipes in mind, he would not disclose it.

Boudreau, who spent parts of five seasons as coach of the Washington Capitals before he was let go in 2011, said he too is expecting a different performance tonight from the Rangers.

"We know they're going to come out hard, a.) because they've won three in a row and they're feeling pretty good about themselves; b.) they're starting to get healthy and they're a lot better team right now with Alain having the ability to have them practicing at home," Boudreau said. "We know they're going to be the New York Rangers of old. We'd better be ready."

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