GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The harsh realities of stopping frozen pucks again has intruded on the Rangers and their productive forward Ryan Callahan, just when they were enjoying exhilarating back-to-back wins that apparently set them up for an encouraging playoff run.
Rangers coach John Tortorella confirmed Tuesday that Callahan, the team's second-leading scorer, is out "long term" after suffering a broken right ankle when he blocked a shot by Boston's Zdeno Chara in the dying seconds of Monday night's 5-3 comeback victory. Chara broke the league record with a 105.9-mph blast at this year's All-Star skills event.
Callahan, 26, has both lived and died by his willingness to throw himself in front of opponents' shots. He ranks fifth among NHL forwards in blocks this season with 77. But it was also a blocked shot, against Pittsburgh's Kris Letang in December, that sidelined Callahan for 19 games with a broken hand.
"There's no comfort in losing Ryan Callahan," Tortorella said. "But it's something we've handled before. We've had to. And I do think it can be a galvanizing thing.
"There's nothing good about this, but I think you need to try to turn it into something that will help your team even more during this crunch time, to turn your team even more into wanting to do more of that ."
Though he hardly can hope to replace a 23-goal scorer, Tortorella said he would move defenseman Matt Gilroy, the North Bellmore native in his second year with the Rangers, to right wing -- at least temporarily. Gilroy, in 56 games, has three goals and eight assists. "He's played that position before," Tortorella said, "though not here. We'll see where it goes."
Tortorella also mentioned that captain Chris Drury, out with a surgically repaired knee since Feb. 3, would resume full practice Wednesday, though neither Tortorella nor Drury said there were any immediate expectations of when Drury can play.
"I just want to be able to practice tomorrow," Drury said after participating in a workout Tuesday. "That's my mindset. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, thinking games, dates, anything like that."
Drury called Callahan's injury "a big loss for us. He plays in every situation, does all the little things, does all the big things and has just been great. But, certainly, as he would want the guys to do, you play hard and kind of move on and win some games and put a smile on his face that way."