Rangers-Ryan Callahan: The captain of the Blueshirts returned to the lineup Monday night after missing seven straight games with a broken thumb, and he did not seem to miss a beat, playing his usual intense style over 18+ minutes. He was physical---had a game-high six hits, involved in all three zones, and picked up an assist on Michael Del Zotto's goal. Now the Rangers need him to continue that infectious brand of hockey and to stay healthy and remain in the lineup. Callahan missed the entire pre-season and the first game of the regular season following off-season shoulder surgery, then after playing in five straight games he sat out the next seven with the thumb injury. The Rangers are a far better team with Callahan in the lineup in all facets of the game---even strength, power play (he still leads the team with two power play goals), and on the penalty kill. This season he has four points in six games played (3-1-4), and with Rick Nash remaining out of the lineup Callahan must be among the Rangers' best offenisve players night-in, night-out while doing all of the other things he does so well for the club. In 33 career games against the Penguins Callahan has scored nine goals and totaled 16 points.
Penguins-Sidney Crosby: The NHL leader with 23 points in Pittsburgh's first 15 games, Crosby is healthy again and right on top of his game, playing with an eerie consistency from night to night. Crosby has recorded points in all but two of Pittsburgh's games this season, and in those two games he failed to notch a point the Penguins lost both. He is the engine that drives the top team in the Eastern Conference, and dating back to last season when he amassed 56 points in 36 games, Crosby has recorded at least one point in 41 of his last 51 contests. After two nearly completely lost seasons due to post concussion syndrome, Crosby ranked third in the NHL in point scoring a year ago, won the Ted Lindsay Award, and was a Hart Trophy Finalist. In his career Crosby has recorded an incredible 688 points in just 485 games. He has loves playing at Madison Square Garden, a building where he has notched at least one point in 16 of his last 17 games played there including the last eight in a row. All totaled, in 43 career games against the Rangers Crosby has 20 goals, 39 assists and 59 points.