Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rangers Should Turn To Avery In Game 2

New York Rangers coach John Tortorella went with his gut in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Washington Capitals.  The coach played Mats Zuccarello and Matt Gilroy over Sean Avery and Steve Eminger.  One of those decisions appears to have worked, at least for the first game, but the other might need to be rectified as the series progresses. 

Despite the game lasting nearly four full periods of action Zuccarello was only the ice for a mere 7:34 of ice time, with only 3:24 coming after the first period.  If Zuccarello or Avery are going to have their minutes limited to that extent, then it should be Avery who plays.  The fear with him is over the potential for a bad penalty that will cost the team, but right now they need the energy he can bring to the lineup. 

Avery is not the player he was a few years ago and certainly does not play the same style that made him so effective when he initially came to New York, but he could still provide a boost to the lineup right now.  His ability to spark his team and get under the skin of the other team is something that playoff hockey is all about.  The playoff grind is as much a mental battle as it is a physical one and if you have a potential chip that can unnerve the opposition you have to play it.

Tortorella has to forget about the 2009 series and let Avery play as he is capable because he can be a wildcard for the Rangers in the series.  As with all wildcards they can be that in a good way for you or in a bad way that hurts you, but if you are going to nail someone to the bench during the games it should be Avery for the edge he can add and not Zuccarello who has lost confidence in his skill right now.  Zuccarello is still better off back in Hartford playing minutes crucial to his development for the future.