Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Avery Won't Play Tomorrow, Says All Right Things On First Day Back

Avery returned to New York Rangers practice today and found himself in a rotation with the fourth line leading tot he expectation that he would be a healthy scratch tomorrow as I suggested he should this morning.  In meeting with reporters after practice Avery said that there was no reason to change the lineup because of him not skating for a few days and the way the team played Monday.  John Tortorella confirmed that the same lineup will go tomorrow and Avery

Avery has a reputation of a selfish player from some because of the bad penalties he has taken at points in his career, but he has never struck me as selfish or a bad teammate.  It is excellent to see him with the understanding of how well the team played Monday and not wanting to change that up just so he can play.  He will get his chance shortly and I have no doubt he will be ready for it.  What comes of it, we shall see.

In terms of his feelings about being back in the NHL and more specifically New York, the Rangers official twitter had the following quote.
Avery: "I love playing for this team and I'm excited to play in the new building...I have loved every game I have ever played for this team" 
For the most part I am indifferent on Avery, but the one thing I have always respected about him is you never had to wonder if he loved wearing the Rangers sweater.  Obviously his effectiveness with it has differed through the years, but you always knew he wanted to be hear and wanted to do well.

Report: Rangers Had Discussion With Leafs Potential Deal

The New York Rangers have made no secret that they are still looking to improve their defense in the absence of Marc Staal from the lineup.  Having already picked up Jeff Woywitka on waivers and made a contract offer to free agent Anton Stralman, the Rangers are checking out all avenues of bringing in more options.  According to Pierre Lebrun over at ESPN the Rangers have looked into the trade market as well calling the Toronto to check on the availability of some players.

There is really nothing to see here other than GM Glen Sather doing exactly what he is supposed to do in doing his due diligence around the league.  Before people start freaking out over who might get traded to acquire someone from Toronto remember that this is routine.   If defense was the topic of conversation the Rangers have no room for contracts like Komisarek, Liles or Phaneuf on the roster.  Burke is not going to trade Luke Schenn without getting a steep return either.  Burke has been said to be trying to unload Cody Franson after acquiring him this summer but that is not an upgrade over what the Rangers already have.

Despite Avery's Return Rangers Should Stick With Same Lineup Thursday

In case you were living under a rock from just before noon Tuesday until now, you know that Sean Avery is back with the New York Rangers and will join the team for practice tomorrow.  Those who wanted Avery back have gotten at least part of what they wanted and those unhappy about the return need to get over it and cheer for him when he puts on that Rangers sweater and steps on the ice.  Beyond that comes the question of when Avery will play.  Coach John Tortorella hinted during last night’s postgame that Avery might not suit up Thursday because of how the team played Monday night.
"I'm not force-feeding anything," Tortorella said after the game. "If I look at the tape and think guys have done their job, you stay with your team. I just don't know what the lineup's going to be our next game. We'll see how it all works out."
While some might view that as Tortorella laying the ground work to leave Avery out for personal reasons, that is the right approach as the coach of the team.  The Rangers had a complete team effort Monday and no one played to a level worthy of being benched, so sticking with what they have would be the right call.  Sean Avery will play for the Rangers and soon, but he should be scratched Thursday, even if it will make the Garden explode with anticipation.

For the first nine games of the season the Rangers struggled to do anything consistently.  The forecheck never seemed to get going.  The lines needed to be shuffled virtually every other shift.  Secondary scoring was virtually non-existent.  Worst of all the level of energy in the Rangers play simply was not there.  The team failed to put one 60 minute performance on the books in those first nine games.  If that had happened again last night against the Sharks I would suit Avery up to give them the a spark Thursday, but the Rangers came alive for at least one night and that lineup deserves the opportunity to do it again next game.

The idea of sitting Avery will not make his supporters happy, but at the same time I would point out how  many of them complained about the amount of changes Tortorella has made in his lines thus far this season.  Last night each different line did their job, and maybe for some of the players it was a fluke, but if you cry about consistency, then be consistent and want it left alone when it works.  Calling for changes  to get any individual player in the lineup regardless of how the team did in their previous game puts that player above the team.  That’s wrong. 

Have no fear Avery supporters, Erik Christensen will likely go back to being invisible after his two assist effort against the Sharks and then the calls for him to be benched for Avery will be absolutely legit.  The obvious move for coach John Tortorella to make if Avery is going into the lineup would be to take out Andre Deveaux, but Deveaux was very effective in limited action against San Jose.  Deveaux skated well, took the body and made no glaring mistakes, which is exactly what you want out of a fourth line player. Wojtek Wolski is probably the player who was the worst on Monday night, but removing him from the lineup would likely throw multiple lines back into the blender, thus starting over on chemistry.

Avery will get his chance in short order, but for Thursday against the Ducks, the right call is the unpopular one for coach John Tortorella to make.  Stick with the team that finally put a full game of effort together and see if they can repeat that deed.  Avery will be a tremendous spark when he first steps on the ice for New York this year, but there is no reason to set fire to a lineup that did everything Rangers’ fans had been waiting for all season to do.