As per the AHL Transaction Log, the Rangers have returned Mats Zuccarello to the Connecticut Whale of the AHL. This is no real surprise, as Zuccarello seemed overmatched in Game One, and was a healthy scratch in the following two games. Zuccarello is best served seeing consistent ice time in the AHL playoffs. This serves two purposes for the young, diminutive winger. First, he will get consistent minutes, close to 15 minutes per game with the CT Whale playing on a top line and a powerplay unit. Second, he will gain invaluable playoff experience as the Whale are in contention for the Calder Cup following a late surge this season.
Zuccarello’s demotion means that Sean Avery will stay in the lineup until further notice. Avery, who was the healthy scratch for Game One, has earned his playing time in the playoffs thus far. He has played disciplined hockey, while adding a physical edge to the Rangers that is missing with the Ryan Callahan injury. Avery is one of the fastest Ranger skaters that can match up physically against the Caps, while playing that grind-it-out game that the Rangers need to play to remain in this series. Avery will need to be the Avery that we know and love in order for the Rangers to stand a chance.