Last night’s game showed us two things. The first was that Washington is going to play a physical and defensive series, and the second is that Mats Zuccarello is not someone John Tortorella is going to turn to after the second period. In a game that lasted 78:24, Zuccarello received just 7:34 of ice time, and was the only Ranger skater with under ten minutes of ice time. Zuccarello looked lost, took a very stupid penalty, and just couldn’t compete with the physicality that the Capitals were bringing.
Zuccarello not seeing the ice in overtime is probably the most telling sign that he will be the one who will sit should there be a lineup change, which I am almost positive there will be. The Rangers cannot allow the Caps to be the more physical team in this series, as being a physical grinding team has been the Rangers calling card all season. Insert Sean Avery, who is probably one of the Rangers fastest skaters, but can play that physical game as well. Who knows, maybe he can remember how to agitate and get under someone like Alex Semin’s skin.
Regardless of Avery’s ability to agitate, it is very clear that he needs to be back in the lineup if just so that the Rangers can match the physical presence that the Caps have. These are not the same Caps that the Rangers manhandled twice. These Caps play defense, and these Caps hit hard. Avery’s skill set would match up nicely with the Caps, and I would have to assume he dresses for tomorrow’s Game Two.
Of course, how much time he gets on the ice is Tortorella’s decision. But to be fair, Avery will get more ice time the more effective he is. Time to let it all hang out Avery. Pretend Semin is Kovalchuk.