Sean Avery has seen himself as a healthy scratch ma few times this week, and the agitator may have lost his spot on this team. Initially scratched because of what coach John Tortorella defined as inconsistency, Avery returned to the lineup only to take a stupid penalty against the Islanders late in the game. That penalty led to him being benched again for last night’s win over Montreal, a game in which the Rangers didn’t really need him on the ice.
With the way the Rangers lines have performed, it becomes an issue of who the Rangers would scratch to get Avery back in the lineup. As of right now, there isn’t a single skater I would scratch in favor of Avery. That is nothing against Avery, it’s just other players have outplayed him, and it makes Avery a spectator more often than not heading into the stretch run.
When it comes to next season, it makes you wonder if Avery will even be with the Rangers at all. A trade is unlikely, because any acquiring team would have to absorb his full $3.9 million cap hit. However, a buyout isn’t completely out of the question. Per CapGeek, a buyout would result in a $1.2 million cap hit in 2011-2012, and a $1.3 million cap hit in 2012-2013. While that total cap hit is a bit large, it would be divided amongst the Rangers and the Stars, so the Rangers cap hit would be $600,000 in 2011-2012, and $650,000 in 2012-2013.
I don’t think the Rangers will buyout Avery, but with Brad Richards looming, Chris Drury’s $7.05 million cap hit, and Wade Redden’s $6.5 million cap hit returning for the summer (summer cap is 10% higher than the regular season cap), the Rangers may need to clear more space to have room to sign Richards. Avery may find himself a victim of the numbers game should the Rangers pursue Richards with a blank check. What is more likely is that Avery finds himself as a 13th forward for the rest of this season, and possibly next year. Avery has been great for the Rangers, but it looks like his time in blue is coming to an end.
So far this season John Tortorella has pushed a lot of the right buttons this season and is certainly up there for coach of the year with the job he has done with this New York Rangers club. One button he refuses to seem to consistently push however is the one player on the Rangers team that can push the other team’s buttons; Sean Avery. While the Rangers were getting Avery’d by Subban there was Avery playing his three minutes per period as if the world would crumble if he got more time. With each shift that Avery had even when the team was asleep at the wheel he made an impact and yet he still ended the night with a measly 9:46 of ice time. Only Kris Newbury less ice than Avery last night and he was far from the second worst forward the Rangers had in the game for that to be warranted. Subban said before yesterday’s game when asked if he was an agitator, “I’m not Sean Avery.” Whether he is or he is not the Rangers need more of Sean Avery.
I understand that with every shift you send Avery on the ice there is the risk he could explode and hurt the team with a bad penalty, but there were plenty of those going around last night and Avery was one of the few who were helping when he was out there. To continually short change Avery for fear of what he might do or to rein him in to prevent those things is counterproductive to the larger picture of what Avery can bring to this club. If Avery goes out and does something wrong, then by all means punish him to the fullest extent that you can, but Avery has done nothing to hurt this team this season.
The reality is that Avery has been a great soldier for the team in not making noise with his consistent demotions, especially the one this week when he was demoted by the trade for Wojtek Wolski. Avery had just played three excellent games with Gaborik and Anisimov and yet without a second thought he was immediately back on the fourth line toiling away with Drury. The skill of Wolski and Gaborik together is an intriguing proposition, but what we have seen this season is that Gaborik is at his best when he has grit to play with him because he does not want to play the hard game. A line of Wolski, Stepan, Gaborik has plenty of skill, but does not mesh with this team’s identity and breaks the rhythm of the way the other lines at least attempt to play.
There will obviously be new lines today because of the performance last night and they might be the same as the ones we saw in the third period last night where the Rangers attempted their comeback. If so that would see Avery with Boyle and Prust and he can certainly fit right in with those two in the role that Fedotenko has played this season. What I would rather see is Drury removed from the kids and let Avery play with the skill of Stepan and Zuccarello so they have some toughness and protection on their line
I have never been one of Avery’s biggest supporters because of the antics that he seems to get caught up in more than the hockey side, but for the majority of the year he has been a focused hockey player and has shown his hockey skill and intelligence when given the opportunities to do so. There is bound to be that moment where he loses focus, but until that happens let him play and stop treating him as if he is guilty until proven innocent. Avery has produced as he is 10th on the team in points (16) despite being 14th on the team among forwards in average ice time. It is time that Tortorella puts aside whatever his deal is with Avery and just sends him out there go play as he knows how because like it or not Torts saw firsthand last night what happens when a team gets Avery’d.
*Note: This was written before Sunday’s game and the festivities that Dave looked at yesterday. Avery was the least used forward in the game with only 8:09 vs Philly.
One of the bright spots during last night’s 3-2 loss to the Flyers was when Sean Avery won his fight against Matt Carle. It was surprising to see Carle, a non-fighter, take on Avery, but it happened nonetheless. Non-fighters fight, and many are calling Avery’s challenging of Carle to be bush-league. While the fight itself isn’t as bush as everyone makes it out to be, what happened after the fight is blatant disregard for the hockey players’ code (video below).
What gets me is that once his opponent is down, Avery still throws two punches to the prone Carle. That is a blatant disregard for any kind of ethics in a hockey fight. The unspoken code states that once an opponent is down, the fight is over, and punches cease to be thrown. This is now twice where Avery has thrown punches at a prone opponent this season. As much as we love Avery as Ranger fans, that is downright dirty. Someone is eventually going to ring Avery’s bell, and it might be sooner rather than later.
A few different blogs in the Ranger universe have considered the ‘issue’ and beat writer Larry Brooks has recently been more than willing to openly discuss the potential issue. Sean Avery. We’ve written a lot about the ‘grate one’ here at Blueseatblogs, mainly about what Avery can bring to club and what role he should play for the Blueshirts but this season, despite several strong showings, Avery doesn’t seem to be getting the ice time his play has often (but in the spirit of fairness, not always) warranted.
It must be a topic worth discussing when the mainstream media are more than happy to discuss it. On Monday, in Brook’s article he makes a sarcastic comment about Avery’s status:
Gaborik could play with Erik Christensen and Sean Avery (until they’re inevitably benched)
The problem with this issue is in the old age of upsetting the apple cart. The Rangers are playing a pretty strong transition season, have created themselves an identity and have coped well with significant injuries all while the young players appear to be growing before the fans eyes. So do you mention a possible issue that could affect the team as well as the coaches (improved) relationship with the media? The answer needs to be yes. Avery – even at half the salary hit thanks to Dallas – is a cap anchor if he’s only going to be playing 8 minutes per game. Better yet, if he isn’t going to be given a fair chance to prosper his spot could/should be taken by a Dale Weise or Evgeny Grachev to learn on the fly for 10 minutes a game. Avery can be a liability but he can also be a key element in the team’s success as he has proven this year. Averaging just around 12 minutes a game he is second on the team in assists, impressive given his limited ice time. So, does Tortorella have a personal problem with Avery? Brooks also discussed Avery’s situation with yet more of his usual sarcasm the other day when discussing the recent shootout loss to Tampa.
Don’t want to make a big deal out of this, but would Sean Avery have gone before Martin Biron if Thursday’s shootout against Tampa Bay had gone deeper into the Garden night?
That comment speaks volumes to what is now being perceived by the media and not just Rangers fans. It may be time to ask Tortorella why Avery hasn’t been used more and it may be time to decide whether Avery stays with this team or not. Ridding this team of Avery and White sheds a significant amount of salary. One of these players isn’t needed but one of these players (guess which one) could certainly be used better. Is it time to find out?
This may already be a redundant post given Tortorella’s penchant for juggling lines and this all depends on the minutes distributed but the apparent demotion to the fourth line along with Sean Avery and Derek Boogaard doesn’t necessarily need to mean punishment for Erik Christensen. Quite the opposite possibly. Under normal circumstances the 4th line label is punishment, a demotion and the end of productivity but such is the collection of players on the Rangers roster that there will be plenty of skill and an interesting look for EC’s unit in the next game or two. Christensen has the ability to be productive but isn’t productive enough to warrant top 6 minutes. However for the Rangers, having players with his skill level lower down the roster spreads the offensive ability out. Other than when Gaborik was double shifted (after Boogaard’s injury last night) Christensen played mainly with Avery and the big ex-Minnesota tough guy. It’s a strange mix but one with potential.
Boogaard obviously can bang, Avery likes to get in deep and is strong on the boards so this line represents a chance for Christensen to get some space and time on the puck (should the line be effective in whatever minutes Tortorella gives them). Christensen played 12 minutes last night, Avery just under 9 but both had effective moments in the game. They will need to show some consistency – that has arguably eluded both players thus far – to get promotions and more minutes but last night was a positive start for the pair, specifically Christensen. His goal last night was basically all about taking a chance. While it was a bad error by Brian Elliot Christensen threw it on net going by the old adage ‘if you’re not in it you can’t win it’. He needs to do more of that. Take chances (in the right situations) and look to make plays. He should have line mates that will afford him space to showcase his talents. Who knows, it may lead to better days for the unpredictable pivot.
Not sure if you caught this yet, but many of the Ranger bloggers out there are supporting the Vote for Sean Avery – 2011 All Star Game campaign. Much like the vote for Rory campaign of yester-year, that almost sent Rory Fitzpatrick to the All Star Game a few years ago, this movement is designed to get the NHL’s most infamous pest a starting spot in the All Star Game this year in Raleigh.
Avery is not on the ballot this year, so he would need to be a write-in vote. Obviously you should be voting for other Rangers as well, like Henrik Lundqvist and Brandon Dubinsky, but writing in Sean Avery should be on everyone’s ballot. You can vote here, and can vote up to 30 times per day. Let’s send our favorite pest to Raleigh this year.
If ever there was a sign that the real Sean Avery was back it is the fact that days after the Edmonton game, the Oilers players are still whining about the apparent dirty play. It wasn’t exactly gentlemanly conduct but look again closely (as should the Oilers players); Smid hadn’t turned his back on Avery and was still engaging him. What he got from Avery he should expect to have received from Avery, but this is the critical point for the Rangers: what Smid got, 18 months ago he wouldn’t have got. Avery looked disengaged 18 months ago and right now he is totally focused, passionate about his hockey and his team and more than willing to really get under the opponents skin. He will every now and again go over that infamous line but players of his ilk usually do. They need to. It’s what he brings as a package that’s so critical.
During the win against the NHL refereeing association Penguins last night, we continued to see mature performances from Brandon Dubinsky, Marc Staal, Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi and along with Lundqvist and Gaborik these are obviously the core components going forward for the Rangers however John Tortorella needs to be aware of keeping Avery in the mindset and form that he is currently in as (as we’ve discussed time and time again) Avery is an essential part of this team when he plays like he is. No other team other than the Flyers and Bruins (to varying degrees) have a player that can do what Avery does. He cycles the puck brilliantly and has played heads-up hockey recently. His skill behind the net is excellent and the grit and annoyance he brings is unparalleled. No team since the Tampa Bay Lightning have won the Cup being top heavy. Special teams and depth is king – if you can get them. If the Rangers can add a solid top 6 scorer over the summer -or fast track a guy like Chris Kreider into an impact player – then they have the ability to play deep and with a third line featuring Sean Avery the Rangers have an X factor and a very bright future.
Many of the aforementioned keys to the Rangers future were on the ice last night for the game winner – Dubinsky, Callahan, Staal, Girardi and Lundqvist – but every successful team need their foot soldiers (and unheralded players, in the shadows) such as Avery and how fitting it is that while those young players bask in their justified praise, Avery is in the shadows playing old fashioned and effective hockey.
Sean Avery has been one of the most effective forwards on the Rangers this year. He has contributed offensively, gotten under the skin of the opposition and dominated in the corners and behind the net. In short we’ve seen the Avery of old with a touch more skill. However for some reason Coach Tortorella has been reluctant to dish out appropriate ice time to the premier agitator in the league. 12 games into the year and Avery has averaged 14:13 per game, simply put that is not enough. While the Rangers haven’t had a great issue with scoring this year, 9 of the last 14 goals scored by the cub have come from just two forwards (Dubinsky and Callahan). With Avery’s line being pretty effective they deserve more ice time to try and make a greater impact offensively, especially in the absence of Gaborik and Prospal. If the trend of the lack of ‘offensive spread’ continues teams will key-in more and more on Dubi and Cally and the Rangers will begin to struggle to score enough. It’s an issue that needs to be nipped in the bud before it becomes a real issue.
So far this year Avery has stuck up for his team mates, played physical and stayed on the right side of that infamous edge everyone talks about. It’s time he got more ice time. If one assumes the Dubinsky-Anisimov-Callahan line remains intact when Gaborik returns throw Avery on the left side of Gaborik. He can hold his own offensively, would create space for his elite line mate and with his strong board play and skill behind the net will allow Gaborik to find space to use his lethal shot. Wayne Gretzky often had ‘lesser’ players on his line to good effect although often they were ‘pure’ agitators like Dave Semenko. Avery can be a key player for this club, both a physically intimidating player and a offensive contributor… if Tortorella lets him.
In the first period of the Islanders Rangers game, Isles defenceman Wisniewski and the Rangers’ Avery had a verbal exchange and shoved each other in front of the Isles’ net. Immediately after the exchange the islanders Wisniewski motioned a ‘gesture’ (it wasn’t exactly tongue in cheek!) towards Avery and has now been banned for 2 games by the league for it. Avery went on record after the game about it and to be honest what he said was true. Avery said:
“Can you imagine if I did that?” he said. “They sent me to rehab the last time I did something. It’s crazy.”
If you haven’t seen it, here it is. James Wisniewski you are a silly boy. Well done to the league for showing that it can actually act swiftly and decisively on matters such as this. Shame that every league official including Gary Bettman went out of their way to (initially) deny seeing anything.
Avery, unlike Wisniewski, showed good restraint oosing to cross the line, a line which he has toed to almost perfection this season so far. Avery has been everything the Rangers want (and need) and has resembled the ‘old Avery’ in the first two games this season. He’s been a nuisance, verbal and aggressive while showing the underappreciated offensive side of his game as well. Avery’s assist from behind the net to Derek Stepan in Buffalo showed that Avery truly does have offensive skill and that he can play any role he wants, when on his game. If Avery continues to play like he has thus far (and yes, it is early) then the Rangers have back their unique weapon and the makings of an excellent third line. ‘Old Avery’ has the Rangers that much closer to the playoffs…. assuming they tighten up the back end.
Prior to the game, Islanders tough guy Zenon Konopka felt the need to have words with several Rangers in the pre game including Avery. Passions were clearly on show. Beginning the first, The Rangers struggled to contain and deal with the Islanders fore-check as the Isles spent a lot of time in the Rangers zone early. It took a few minutes for the Rangers to get some rhythm as the game was played at a good pace. Sean Avery and Derek Boogaard both had early chances while Rick DiPietro started strongly in net for the Islanders. The first fight of the game wasn’t long in coming as 9 minutes in, pre game loudmouth Konopka got into it with Brandon Prust. Both players threw a lot of punches in a long fight which was pretty even.
Soon after the fight, Christensen took a poor penalty to give the Isles the first PP of the game. The Rangers PK was aggressive and dealt with the Isles well when Gaborik broke free and was hauled down by veteran Doug Weight. Gaborik was awarded a penalty shot but was stopped by DiPietro. First goal of the game came to the Isles 13 minutes in. Mike Del Zotto made a big mistake as he coughed the puck up right in front of Lundqvist and Blake Comeau scored on the second attempt. Del Zotto got caught trying to do too much and mishandled.
Following good play by Alex Frolov the Rangers got their first powerplay which they immediately cashed in on. After good play from Del Zotto (redeeming himself from earlier) Brandon Dubinsky had his two shots blocked before getting his own rebound scoring at the third attempt. It was a great response from the Rangers while Dubinsky continued his hot start to the year. Good to see was Sean Avery continuing his play from game one. Vocal and in everyone’s face, Avery continued to occupy every Islander he could. If the ‘grate one’ continues like this it bodes well for the Blueshirts.
3 minutes from the end of the first Lundqvist first made a brilliant save before Josh Bailey was able to score soon after. Bailey’s goal came after another cough up from Del Zotto who had trouble dealing with a puck in front. Defensively, MDZ was not good (at all) in the first. The period was fast, physical and end to end.