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Ryan Callahan Deserves a Higher Profile

The Rangers captain just doesn't stop producing

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Callahan came up with the perfect birthday gift for himself.

    Even in a city as large and diverse as New York, there's a finite amount of space to give full attention to every athlete who deserves to be celebrated.

    That's true in the most common of years, but it is especially true right now. Between Eli Manning, Jeremy Lin, the coming Yankees season and, now, the arrival of Tebowmania, it is almost impossible to find a moment to mention the job being done by some members of the Rangers this season.

    Henrik Lundqvist gets the most discussion and he's a deserving target for praise. The King's work in the nets has been sublime all season and he's the biggest reason why the Rangers maintain a three-point lead in the Eastern Conference.

    Lundqvist did his thing during Wednesday night's 2-1 overtime victory over the Red Wings, but the biggest takeaway from the night was that Ryan Callahan really deserves a bit more celebration in this fair city.

    The Rangers captain is never short on energy, but it actually made you tired watching him race around the ice to keep his team ahead of the Penguins in the battle for home ice come the playoffs.

    Callahan played every shift like he was going to be burned at the stake if anyone saw him taking a second at less than full speed and his plays continually led to good things for the Rangers. There were dives to gain loose pucks that created power play chances, sprints across big stretches of ice to block shots and constant shots on net that challenged Red Wings goalie Ty Conklin.

    Until overtime, Conklin rose to those challenges. There wasn't much he could do when Callahan dug a little deeper in the extra session, though.

    Callahan ripped a shot over Conklin's shoulder and off the right post with so much force that it destroyed the in-net camera on the carom. There was no better way to finish the game since it meant two points for the Rangers and a game-winning goal for their best player all night long on his 27th birthday.

    Style points (and pun-friendly names) count when it comes to grabbing headlines in this town and Callahan doesn't have much in that department. He's got just about everything else going for him, though. 

    Wearing the "C" in hockey carries all sorts of responsibilities, but the best captains front teams that take on their image and become stronger as a result of molding themselves in the image of their leader. Callahan has been that for the Rangers this season and, along with Lundqvist, that's the reason why they have reached this point in the season with so much hope for what comes next.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.