Sean Avery needs to take a seat.
One thing was clear after last night's game: His play is going to cost the Rangers a game at some point in this postseason, and that's inexcusable.
Clinging to a one goal lead late in the third period, Avery took two terrible penalties, one 200 feet from the Rangers' goal and one after the whistle, and put the Capitals' deadly power play on the ice for four minutes, most of which was spent in the Rangers' zone.
Don't believe me? Here are some testimonials from the NY beat writers:
Larry Brooks on the second penalty: "A mindless, inexcusable high-stick"
Filip Bondy wrote that the Rangers were: "Forced to survive a couple of third-period power plays thanks to vicious, idiotic penalties by Sean Avery—who should be nowhere near the ice in the final minutes of any game"
Michael Obernauer said: "Unlike in recent seasons, however, they are also winning right now in spite of Avery. "
Dan Martin called the penalties "gratuitous", which, for anyone concerned, means: "not called for by the circumstances; unwarranted"
Rick Carpinello said: "Avery took a needless elbow/forearm swing on Milan Jurcina's head after a race to an icing. Then he took a hatchet swing of his stick across the neck of Brian Pothier - which might get a review from league headquarters."
I'm sure the Avery defenders will point out all the things he does for the team, like draw penalties and score big goals. But here are the facts: trading power plays with the Capitals is not going to get the job done. The Caps were 4-16 prior to last night's 0-6, which happened only because Ovechkin rang one off the post.
You want to keep sending them out there? See how quickly 3-1 turns into golf. The Rangers have scored three goals the last three games. Giving Washington six power plays in a game is a recipe for disaster. The Capitals have a great power play. The Rangers have an awful one
As for the scoring, here's another fact: Sean Avery has one goal in his last 16 games. He has seven points in that span. He has yet to register a point in the series. So what's the upside to playing him?
This is probably where people will start yakking about "grit," "intangibles," and the like—as if the Rangers have some shortage of that on the roster. Blair Betts, Fredrik Sjostrom, Brandon Dubinsky, and Ryan Callahan have all those in spades, only they produce tangible results.
Callahan scored the winner in Game Two, Dubinsky's scored in all three Ranger wins, and Betts and Sjostrom are the two best penalty killers on a league's top unit that, thanks to Avery, spend an inordinate amount of time on the ice.
Maybe now the Avery defenders will point to the fact that the Rangers are, once again, winning with him on the roster. But, of course, the Rangers uptick in play is directly tied in to Henrik Lundqvist, without whom the Rangers would be down 3-1 in this series.
I hope Carpinello is right. I hope the league does take a look at Avery's two penalties, and does suspend him. It may be the best thing for the Rangers.