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Archive for Sean Avery

When looking at the raw ice time numbers, there are a lot of conclusions drawn about the ice time given to Sean Avery (over the last few games) and Erik Christensen (last night). There were a few angry tweets from what appears to be the majority of fans thinking that Avery got the shaft because he received so little ice time, while Christensen is clearly favored because of the ice time he got last night.

Looking at the total ice time, it’s easy to see why people would jump to those conclusions. In Buffalo, Avery received just six shifts for a grand total of 3:48 of ice time. Last night at the Garden, Christensen received 16 shifts for a total of 12:54 in ice time. Looking at those numbers alone, it would appear that Christensen indeed has more favor with the coach than Avery. But looking deeper at the numbers, that’s not exactly true.

Against the Sabres, Avery played each of his six shifts at even strength, and did not receive one shift on the powerplay or on the penalty kill. Two shifts at even strength per period is exactly what is expected of a fourth line player who does not receive –or deserve– any time on special teams, especially in a game that was not decided until the third period. That in itself is why Avery’s ice time appears to be diminished.

Looking at Christensen, it’s easy to see why he has more ice time: he plays the powerplay. In last night’s win over Florida, the Rangers had three powerplays. One went the full two minutes, one went 1:08, and the last one went 1:55. That’s a total of 5:03 of powerplay time for the Rangers throughout the game. Christensen received an extra 1:29 of powerplay time. That plays into his extra ice time.

Another aspect of his increased ice time last night: The Rangers blew out the Panthers. The game was decided long before the third period began, so coach John Tortorella began playing his fourth line more often. In a non-blowout situation, a coach generally rolls his lines in a 1-2-3, 1-2-3-4 pattern. What that means is that he will play his first line, second line, and third line in a row. Then he will start again with his first line, and go through to his fourth line. This rotation generally repeats itself.

*-Naturally there is more to this (matchups, special teams), but for the sake of this post I’m simplifying it.

With the game out of reach for the Panthers, Tortorella ditched the usual rotation and rolled his fourth line more often, giving Christensen more ice time late in the second period and for the entirety of the third period. This explains his 11:25 of even strength TOI.

Let’s remember that before Christensen wound up a healthy scratch, his last game was the 2-1 loss to Florida last month. He played just 8:01 during the game, with 6:05 coming at even strength. That’s an extra two shifts over Avery’s ice time from Buffalo. This was Christensen’s first game in a month, where Avery played in each of the games that he was a healthy scratch.

Let’s also remember that these are fourth line players, and neither will be with the club next year. Perspective is important too.

Categories : Analysis
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Will Hagelin Be a Ranger This Season?

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Having an outstanding beginning to his professional career, Carl Hagelin is becoming an offensive weapon for the CT Whale in the AHL. With Hagelin contributing in every way imaginable, the question of whether he breaks the Rangers roster this year deserves to be raised.

With 12 points (7 goals) in 16 games and an outstanding +10 already, Hagelin is thriving on the ice.  He’s scored in shorthanded situations and scored a game winning penalty shot as well.  There’s not really anything Hagelin hasn’t done yet and looks to be more offensively complete than many gave him credit for prior to entering the pro ranks.

Hagelin was considered a good two-way prospect that could fill a bottom six role  at the NHL level,  to be relied upon to play hard both ends. Is his play (both last year at the NCAA level and for the Whale) perhaps suggesting he could be more than ‘just’ a depth forward? Given his outstanding speed, maturity and now even shootout skills, Hagelin is showing another level is within reach offensively.

Thanks to the Rangers start this year and the apparent depth at their disposal, Hagelin has had to wait and is not being rushed (not a bad thing). A full year in the AHL may be in store for the young Swede but despite the depth in NY Hagelin may still get a shot. While Brian Boyle is safe from criticism because of his contract and defensive ability there are plenty of players under-performing in NY.

Erik Christensen is still unable to appear more than once a month and given Hagelin’s ability in the shootout that shouldn’t be enough to save EC from players being called up for a look. With Wolski and Rupp unable to stay healthy and Andre Devaux playing sparingly Hagelin may yet see New York ice this year. The Rangers were outmatched in the speed stakes against Montreal (as well as in other facets…) and Hagelin could add to that aspect if given the chance.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle – other than desire to give him big minutes in CT – may be the improving form of Sean Avery. With Avery finding the net and playing more like his old self the need for a guy like Hagelin may not be as immediate. With Sean Avery and John Tortorella however, you never know what is around the corner. There’s a lot of possibilities in the Rangers bottom six this year, one of them may include Hagelin at some point this season.

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Schedule, Conference Playing for Rangers

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It doesn’t matter that the Rangers still haven’t strung together many (if any) complete performances but they are winning. What is even more impressive – and enjoyable – is how the rest of the conference is helping the Rangers as we approach the quarter way stage of the season.

Last night The Canadiens (the next opponents), Capitals and Penguins all lost. Toronto continued to lose and for the second year in the row, ruin a fast start. Everywhere you look in the conference, teams are helping the Rangers in their quest for a higher seed. The best part of it all is that the Rangers are benefitting from all their rivals’ inconsistencies while they remain relatively idle. The Rangers main opponents for a top 5 seed have all played at least two games more, at times three. By the time the Rangers face off on Saturday night in Montreal that could be as much as 4.

So what does the favourable shake down of the East mean to the Rangers? Pressure. Less of it. With a winning streak such as the Rangers’, comes heightened expectancy. With winnable games in Montreal and against the Panthers to come, the Rangers have a chance to really cement a place in the top spots of the Eastern conference before three big showdowns with the Capitals, Flyers and Penguins. Should things go as planned the young Rangers can enter the three games against the perennial Eastern powers with everything to gain and reltaively little to lose.

A young team will benefit from playing big games without too much expectancy, necessity or pressure. They can play freely on not worry about the what if’s. If the Rangers can find a way to win against the depleted blue line of Montreal and the overachieving but hardly world beating Panthers then it really does set up an interesting week ahead.

With Marc Staal to return (at some stage, we hope, we pray) the Rangers have a huge opportunity head. They enter the next two weeks well rested and with a chance to lay the foundations for a strong regular season. If they can continue – for the most part – with what has got them to this point there should be no last day jitters or a race to the April finish line. Well rested and not burnt out come the post season, a prolonged second season is more likely and every Rangers fans wants that. So, let’s hope Avery, Richards and the team can hit the next two games hard and steal another two wins. 9 in a row; sounds good.

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Avery Proving People Right

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When Sean Avery was demoted to the CT Whale of the AHL, we said that it was the right move. This was not because we were endorsing Erik Christensen, because we weren’t, it was because Sean Avery’s effectiveness had dwindled. The 2007-2009 version of Sean Avery was superb, he was drawing more than one extra penalty than he was taking, and he was doing his job as a grinder and a pest.

But the 2009-2011 version of Sean Avery was far less effective, drawing just .1 more penalties for every one he took. He was constantly offsides, and seemed to only “bring it” on certain games. At that point, he was no longer worth is $1.9 million cap hit, and had become a liability, instead of an asset. Thus, the controversial decision to send him down was the right one. He was no longer playing the way he needed to play to stay with the Rangers.

As injuries mounted (Wojtek Wolski, Mike Rupp) and players were deemed not ready for the NHL (Mats Zuccarello), the Rangers had no choice but to recall Avery. The Rangers have been 7-0 since news of the recall broke, even if Avery has not played in all games since his recall. But, in the games that Avery has played, he seems like a renewed player.

Avery is no idiot, he knows this is his last shot to stay with a NHL club, and he is doing everything he can to stay with the Rangers. Aside from the scoreboard, the true value of Avery is in his ability to draw penalties while staying out of the box: Something he has done very well thus far.

So far, Avery has not taken a non-coincidental minor penalty, but he has drawn a few penalties on his own. His penalties drawn per 60 minutes is at 3.2, meaning he draws about three penalties per 60 minutes played. His penalties taken per 60 minutes is at 0.0, meaning he hasn’t taken any penalties that resulted in his team being shorthanded thus far. Those are extremely telling numbers, albeit with small sample size.

So why is the title of this post “Avery Proving People Right?” Simply put, we had been saying that Avery needed to be more effective to stay on the roster. He did not prove anyone wrong by playing this way and staying on the roster, it’s what we’ve been saying since the day he was demoted. He was not effective, and now he is. It’s as simple as that.

Categories : Analysis
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As has been said countless times on this site; when Ruslan FedotenkoBrian BoyleBrandon Prust is your fourth line, then you have the makings of a contender. Well, at least in Brandon Prust’s case, he is on his way if not already arrived at the fourth line. With such little ice time last night against the Isles (less than 6 minutes) and an ever-dwindling role on the team Prust is nowhere near as relevant as he was last year. However, that is a good thing and if anything just a sign that this team is developing and is deeper than it was the year previous.

Prust fans should not worry however. With less ice time comes less focus, but that doesn’t mean Prust isn’t a valuable player for the Rangers. He’s a heck of a gritty player and will go to war for his team and teammates and he’ll likely be a major factor again this season. But he needs to get healthy and Rangers fans need to realise it cannot be a good thing when the Prust’s of this world are getting 15 minutes a game like he was last year. The Rangers lacked the ability to hold on to the puck last year and part of the reason was the lack of skill on the ice.

Sean Avery has re-emerged, and based purely on the past two games (albeit against inferior opponents) Avery has a legitimate role on this team. Avery is still unique when he plays like he can. He has a healthy dose of skill, is an intelligent hockey player (at times), and is a pest who can bring a physical, relentless style to the game. If the Rangers can have both Avery and Prust firing on all cylinders this season, then my-o-my this team can go places.

Avery, Prust, Fedotenko, Ryan Callahan and even Brandon Dubinsky give this team a boat load of grittiness and effort. Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, Derek Stepan, and Artem Anisimov bring the skill and finesse to the table. Combine the two and you have the makings of a perfect blend amongst the forward group.

In an ideal world, Prust (and his line) will get between 8-11 minutes per game and be a physical factor. They’ll harass the opposition and create space for the skilled lines to do their thing. Prust will chip in the odd goal, assist, fight and everything he does but it can only bode well when the top six are playing the important minutes because they are – and will be – the difference makers for this club.

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If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

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The Rangers are in the middle of a four game winning streak. A streak where they have looked dominant against some teams, and managed to get victories in games where they may not have shown up for the majority of the game. The top three lines are clicking, the defense pairs are playing above and beyond anything expected, and the goaltending has been spectacular. But yet, there are still some whispers about when Sean Avery will be “unleashed.”

There is an old adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This holds true with the Rangers on this current streak. Sean Avery has only been getting five minutes a game, but the top three lines have been superb thus far. The problem with trying to get Avery more minutes is that those minutes have to come from someone else. There is not a single person on the top three lines that Avery can replace without having a negative effect on the overall product on the ice.

The main argument is that he should be taking time from some of the veterans playing over 20 minutes per game, specifically Brad Richards. The problem with that logic is that Richards is getting almost five minutes per game on the powerplay, thus he is only playing 18 minutes at even strength. Eighteen minutes is normal for a top line center, and 23 minutes is normal for someone who is the powerplay quarterback.

The only other forward to play more than 20 minutes is Ryan Callahan, who plays on the powerplay and the penalty kill. Should minutes be taken away from him to make more ice time for Avery? I think a better question is would you prefer to have Avery on the ice on special teams over Callahan? The answer here should be a resounding no.

So while Avery’s recall has apparently provided some spark –the Rangers are 4-0 since the news of his recall broke, the thought of getting him more time is just irresponsible for the time being. The Rangers are winning, and there is not a soul on the top three lines that should be dropped. Sometimes, you have to make it work with what you have, and Avery has been doing that thus far. It’s about the team, not the player.

Categories : Rants
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Game 12 Preview: Canadiens vs. Rangers

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Opponent: Les Habitants (5-5-2)

Leading Scorer: Max Pacioretty (4-5-9)

Goaltender: Carey Price (2.45 GAA, .908 SV%)

Rangers Projected Lines: (Unconfirmed)

Ruslan Fedotenko-Derek Stepan-Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky-Brad Richards-Ryan Callahan
Artem Anisimov-Brian Boyle-Brandon Prust
Sean Avery-Erik Christensen-Andre Deveaux

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto-Mike Sauer
Jeff Wywitka-Steve Eminger

Henrik Lundqvist

Martin Biron

Scratches/Injuries: Marc Staal (concussion symptoms), Mike Rupp (knee), Wojtek Wolski (groin), Anton Stralman

Scouting Report:  The contract extension given to Pekka Rinne (Nashville), which will pay him $49M for the next 7 years, has instantly turned the spotlight on Price & Management up in Montreal. The last few days the Montreal media has been vigorously debating Price’s potential worth, since he is the last elite goaltender to be on RFA pay. Hopefully the debate gets to Price starting tonight!

The Habs have yet to really get going, but when they are on they are beating teams by capitalizing on turnovers in the neutral zone and on special teams, as all good trapping teams do.

If the Rangers are going to defeat the Canadiens, they will need to be patient and not force long passes through these neutral zone schemes. They are also going to have to be careful with their sticks. I’ve said it before, I am not a conspiracy theorist. However, history has proven time and time again, when the Canadiens come to town, 5-on-5 play lasts about as long as a Kim Kardashian marriage.

It would also be nice if Avery plays like the 2007 version of Avery and not the 2011 version of Avery. I’m not sure what to expect of Sean in his quasi-third stint with the Rangers, but if he beats up PK Subban tonight, all debts are paid.

Crazy Thought: Avery gets a Gordie Howe Hat Trick.

Opponent’s Blog: Habs Blog, don’t worry it’s not in French

Today’s game is on at 7:00pm on MSG, AM1050, and XM92…I think.

Categories : Game Thread
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Lofty Expectations For Avery

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When Sean Avery returns to the lineup tonight, it will be with very high expectations from the fans. Chants of “We Want Avery” rang down from the blue seats from the moment the Rangers touched home ice last week, and have continued in spurts throughout this homestand. When the Rangers play well, the chants are quiet, and sometimes met with harsh criticism from fans. But when the Rangers are losing, the chants get loud. It seems that fans think that Avery is the answer to all that troubles this team.

Whether the above assumption is true or not, it has the appearance of truth, which is all it really needs. From 2007-2008, Sean Avery was a force to be reckoned with on the Rangers. He was incredibly effective, and instantly became a fan favorite. His skills, and most importantly his ability to draw penalties, diminished drastically during Avery’s second run on Broadway, and it ended up with him in the AHL. It seems that fans only remember the 2007-2008 version of Avery.

For Avery to succeed, he needs to be that 2007-2008 Sean Avery. He needs to get under the skin of opponents. He needs to stay onsides. He needs to stay out of the box. He needs to grind along the walls. He needs to do this every single night. The fans have a taste for life without Sean Avery, and it has been pretty decent hockey, all things considered. The Rangers have found ways to beat playoff teams, but have yet to play a full 60 minutes for several straight games (they have two in a row against San Jose and Anaheim though).

But what happens if the 2009-2011 version of Sean Avery shows up? The version that couldn’t do anything above things on a consistent basis? Sure, Avery showed up for a few games against rivals and the Dallas Stars, but other than that he was quite invisible. Will the fans, who love him dearly, turn on him because they realize that this isn’t the Avery they remember? Ranger fans have a history of incredibly lofty expectations that are impossible to meet (see: Drury, Chris circa 2009).

Is it possible that one of the most beloved members of the current Rangers organization can be turned on if he fails to deliver? Avery is not a goal scoring threat, he does not have the offensive talent that many think he does. He is a grinder, and he creates chances with speed, tenacity, and relentless work ethic –when he wants to.

Avery is a smart man. He realizes this is his final shot at sticking with an NHL club, and it may be his final year in the NHL. All signs point to the Rangers cutting him loose after this season, and no team picked him up on re-entry waivers for less than $1 million. Simply put, other than the Rangers, no one wants him. He knows this. The question is: does he play like it?

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Following the New York Rangers dominating 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks on Monday night, a game in which every player on the roster had a strong game, the focus shifted to the newly recalled Sean Avery, and where he would fit in the lineup after such a strong showing. The likely candidates to sit were the usual ones: Wojtek Wolski and Erik Christensen, both of whom have been in the chateau-bow-wow this year.

The answer came in the form of tweets from practice by the beat writers: Avery was in a fourth line rotation with Andre Deveaux, another recent call up from the CT Whale. Deveaux had a very strong game on Monday, and did things that many expected Mike Rupp to do before he went down with his knee injury. It’s unlikely that Deveaux will sit after having a strong game. It is probably best for Avery, who is aware that this may be his last shot at sticking with the NHL, to bide his time and wait for Christensen or Wolski to mess up. One will. And when they do, it will be the Sean Avery show.

The question remains though: Is it going to be the 2007 Sean Avery or the 2010 Sean Avery?

Categories : Lineup Changes
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Sean Avery Clears Re-Entry Waivers

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As expected, Sean Avery has cleared re-entry waivers, and will be able to join the Rangers during their practice tomorrow. It is unknown if he will be inserted into the lineup, as the Rangers played a complete 60 minutes last night in their 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks. The likely candidates to come out of the lineup are Erik Christensen, Wojtek Wolski, and recent call up Andre Deveaux. Considering the way both Christensen and Deveaux played last night, the front runner to sit if Avery dresses would be Wolski. As Suit pointed out in the comments of the recap, Wolski’s play without the puck wasn’t that strong, which may work against him.

Of course, there is a chance that Avery doesn’t even dress. Considering how well the team played, that is a legitimate possibility. Since Avery cleared re-entry waivers, his salary is added back to the books, with a 50% split between the Rangers and the Dallas Stars.

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