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Callahan, Drury bring defense to Team USA

Rangers forward Ryan Callahan, right, battles Tampa Bay

Rangers forward Ryan Callahan, right, battles Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman in Tuesday night's 8-2 Rangers win. (January 19, 2010) Photo Credit: Getty Images

For the Rangers, they've been thinking mostly offense. For the U.S. Olympic team, they'll think defense first. That's how the assignments of Chris Drury and Ryan Callahan are shaking out.

"They're going to be two good penalty-killers, they've played together all year," said John Tortorella, an assistant coach for Ron Wilson on Team USA. "Cally's going to be a guy that Ronnie can use in different situations, defense, an energy guy, on the power play. It's my responsibility to fill the coaching staff in on how he plays."

According to Tortorella, "Dru is going to be in a role as a penalty killer, a faceoff guy in key situations, and I hope he makes a big play somewhere along the way. I do not think Dru will be cast in an offensive role; I think those are going to be filled by some other players. He's going to come into that grinding part of the game, maybe even some checking roles."

Although Callahan and Drury are one of the Rangers' top PK pairs, Callahan also has been on the first power-play unit most of the season; Drury, the veteran center, has been reassigned to the point on that unit and moved to left wing on the No. 2 line.

"Dru's game has come along since we put him in a third- and fourth-line role; he's played well enough that I haven't been able to keep him there," Tortorella said. On left wing, Drury in is better position "for shooting pucks and being more of a straight-line player, which I think he's been pretty effective at."

On the power play, Ales Kotalik, a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game, "obviously has a better shot; Dru brings another aspect with playmaking," Tortorella said.

 

Blue notes

A rarity: Tortorella is giving minutes to a fourth line - Aaron Voros, Brian Boyle and Sean Avery. Part of it is the busy pre-Olympic schedule, but "A.V.'s brought some energy and worked on his defensive game, Sean has worked through some of his defensive problems, and Brian, we pushed hard in all aspects of his game and he has responded."

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