Ryan Callahan in limbo and in lineup
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. - With the Rangers and his agent planning to continue discussions about a new contract before Friday, when the Olympic roster freeze kicks in, captain Ryan Callahan is expected to dress against the Avalanche tonight.
Callahan, the subject of trade rumors because general manager Glen Sather has given permission to agent Steve Bartlett to speak with other clubs, practiced Monday. Afterward, coach Alain Vigneault said he will deploy the same 20 players against Colorado at Madison Square Garden as in the 4-1 victory over the Islanders on Friday.
In his eighth season on Broadway and a pending free agent this summer, Callahan is not discussing the issue. He has said his "heart is here," and Vigneault is hopeful that an agreement can be reached.
After 3 p.m. Friday, no trades can be made through Feb. 23. Then the NHL's trade deadline is March 5.
Other than the question of Callahan's future, if there is any downside to the Rangers' 12-4-1 run, look no further than the power play, which hasn't found the net in four games (0-for-10) and has scored only four times in the last 32 opportunities. The Rangers scored 10 power-play goals in nine games starting Dec. 23, but the drought has dropped them from fifth in the NHL with the man advantage to 10th.
"Maybe it got a little too good to us," said Brad Richards, who discounted the two outdoor games, when the ice conditions made power-play setups challenging. Making one pass too many and missing shots have hurt, so "getting pucks on net" is a key, he said.
"Teams are scouting us, they see how we are scoring," he said. "Mentally, we're going to have to bear down because in January, we were one of the hottest teams in the league, and there's a responsibility that comes with that success."
In the last four games, Vigneault said, "We haven't had that many [power plays] . . . But it's a matter of executing. I always say the toughest thing to defend is the shot."
Notes & quotes: Goalie Cam Talbot, who has started 14 games, could start against Edmonton on Thursday or in Pittsburgh on Friday. "If we stick to the overall plan of giving him around 20 games, there is a chance, even though I know Hank [Lundqvist] likes playing back-to-back and he's good at it," Vigneault said. "But three [games] in four [nights] is a different situation." Lundqvist will play for Sweden in the Olympics. The Rangers will resume practicing Feb. 20 and their first game after the break is Feb. 27. "We start against Chicago, then we have a back-to-back [in Philadelphia on March 1, here against Boston on March 2], so Cam's going to get some work."