Ryan Callahan will miss tonight's game against Carolina because of a bruised foot, and John Scott will make his Rangers debut. The Rangers' forwards haven't lost many games this season because of injury or anything else: Of the twelve forwards who took the ice in their win Monday night against the Devils, six had played in all 61 games so far, while two others — Carl Hagelin and John Mitchell — haven't missed a game since being recalled from Connecticut in November. Another, Artem Anisimov, missed just one game, while Brandon Dubinsky has missed just three. Mike Rupp is the only one of those twelve who's missed a double-digit number of games.
Of course, this isn't to say the Rangers have avoided injuries altogether: Marc Staal didn't make his debut until the Winter Classic, and Michael Sauer hasn't played since December 5. But the Rangers are hardly the league's most proficient team offensively: They're far from hopeless, but only the Panthers have scored fewer goals among Eastern Conference teams currently in a playoff spot — and that's despite the Rangers' most important forwards for the most part staying healthy. (Michael Del Zotto, who leads Rangers defensemen in scoring, has not missed a game either.)
We like this team as it's presently constructed, and we've seen that they can survive some injuries on their blue line. But not to sound like a worrywart, we're not sure they can afford to lose any of their top-six forwards for an extended period of time, as they did last season. This isn't about Callahan, specifically — he's listed as day-to-day — more of a general observation. We think this team has just enough scoring to be dangerous, thanks to a stingy defense and a world-class goaltender, but we're not sure they have the offensive firepower to survive many injuries up front. The stars have to align for a team to contend for a Stanley Cup, and staying healthy will be a key element for this team, especially for those charged with scoring goals. The sooner Callahan — who's second on the team with 25 goals and 47 points — returns, the better. But it's just as important that his healthy teammates remain healthy for the stretch run and beyond.