Saturday, November 27, 2010

Welcome Back Sean Avery, We Have Missed You

I know that in this space I can be hard on Sean Avery for some of the antics he brings and the lack of energy he has brought over the last couple of weeks, but when I do that it is because of games like last night when Avery pulls out the pocket what he is capable of as a hockey player first.  With a team that is struggling through a brutal schedule at the moment and a lot of players with tired legs Sean Avery against the Panthers brought his game back to the rink.  Avery should have more life in his legs compared to many of the guys on the roster because he had been playing only around eight or nine minutes over the prior eight games and he brought that life out early and often last night.

This game for Avery was his best in a few weeks because he got back to doing what Avery as a hockey player does in getting in on the forecheck, hitting people, and shooting the puck from somewhere other than behind the net.  Avery started the game well and did not let the unlucky double minor for high sticking deter his game as when he came out of the box from serving that penalty he took a beautiful pass from Marc Staal and fired a low hard shot at the net leading to the rebound goal for Derek Stepan.  With Avery’s increased energy and production he was rewarded by the coaches by being moved up from the fourth line to play with Artem Anisimov and Brandon Prust and the line did some good work throughout the game on the forecheck.  In all Avery would play 13:24 on the game and beyond just the minute totals it was an impactful performance from him.

I have said recently that the move that has been most likely once Drury and Prospal return other than White being gone was Avery being scratched from the lineup.  If Avery continues to play as he did last night and bring things few if any other Ranger can bring, and no I do not mean the antics, in his combination of quick skating, toughness and ability to impact the forecheck as he does while occasionally disrupting the focus of his opponents he will remain in the lineup.  I am not big on the Avery antics because I think he loses focus on how good a hockey player he can be when he is focused on being a hockey player first as he was against the Panthers.  It is that Avery more than any other that was the reason after he first came to the Rangers that the team was so good in the W/L column not the one that can become a caricature of himself.  I am well aware that Avery must walk the line to be at his most effective and impactful, which is fine, but he also has to remember not to forget the hockey side while he is doing that.  Bring the skill and the toughness and this team will get back to being so much better for having you in the lineup.  So, welcome back Sean, I hope to see more of this version of you going forward.