“Sean gets the puck and five guys on the other team want to kill him.” - Scott Gomez
It’s good to finally have a player on the Rangers you can say that about.
Sean Avery’s playing the role of villain on the ice and is quiet as a mouse off it. I was lukewarm on his return to the Rangers, worried that the circus he brings with him would overshadow everything else, but he’s saving his agitation for the games, which is where it belongs.
Every player on the opposing team is going out of his way to pummel him, but he’s keeping his head and drawing penalties. Of course, only about one in three are called against him, but that’s life for Avery. He can get elbowed in the face in Montreal right in front of a referee without a whistle blowing, but the officials have no choice but to call some of the punishment he takes. And he’s scoring - four goals, one assist in seven games since joining the Rangers.
But Avery’s only one player, so let’s not go overboard on the credit.
That credit should go to John Tortorella. The Blueshirts are 6-3-1 since he came on-board. It took the team awhile to get used to his system, but they may be getting the hang of it. They’re now the ones who are tiring out their opponents and aren’t a cakewalk to play against anymore. Teams can’t say “We have the day off tomorrow - we’re playing the Rangers” anymore. Avery has a lot to do with that, but the whole team is aggressive and hitting more. And they’re resilient. They could have easily been overwhelmed and rolled up into a ball in Montreal on Tuesday, but they kept their composure and came out of the game with two points.
Now the question is: Do I get sucked in and believe they’re a changed team? On Saturday in Philadelphia, Wade Redden made a case for spending the next five years in Hartford, but in the following two games you could actually hear Sam Rosen say the words “great play by Redden!” Which Wade Redden should I believe in? Nik Antropov is a career-long underachiever, but with the Rangers he has four goals and two assists in seven games.
Which Antropov is going to show up for the rest of the season? Scott Gomez has 10 points in the 10 games that Tortorella’s been here. Will that continue or will we see the Gomez who constantly turns the puck over and aimlessly skates around? Will the Rangers keep up the solid play with consistent effort? Will they keep on attacking and being the team that sets the tone for the game? Have they sucked me in to the point of believing? Of course they have. I can’t help it. I’m a sucker.
(Rangers record with Avery)
(54 fights, 6th in the league)
Colton Orr: 16
Aaron Voros: 10
Brandon Dubinsky: 6
Paul Mara: 6
Ryan Callahan: 3
Dan Girardi: 3
Petr Prucha: 2
Erik Reitz: 2
Marc Staal: 2
Nigel Dawes: 1
Markus Naslund: 1
Wade Redden: 1
Nikolai Zherdev: 1