It is believed that Sean Avery will make his return this Sunday against the Ducks. The New York Rangers have been winning and scoring goals. So was Avery really missed, should he play this Sunday and who should he replace?
The original deal was to have Avery play the first line with Gaborik and Dubinsky. But due to his injury, Vinny Prospal has taken that spot and that line has looked very good. This line should not be changed at all at this time. If the Rangers are able to gain a nice lead going into the third period, I can see coach Tortorella experimenting with Avery on the first line. If for some reason the first line is having issues moving or controlling the puck, I can see Avery playing on that line. But as it has been these past four games, the first line is clicking like never before and producing.
The second line that has Drury, Kotalik and Ryan Callahan playing on it has looked ok. But the Rangers last game against Washington had Kotalik playing with Enver Lisin and Artem Anisimov. This line looked very good and even knocked in a beautiful goal that was created by checks and fore-checking.
Other than his goal in the first game against Pittsburg, Drury has looked ok. He has had a few quality goal scoring chances but has not been able to knock them in. I was hoping after his first goal, that he would have went on a scoring frenzy and would have been able to get into some sort of grove. But that didn’t happen.
What surprises me is the fact that Ales Kotalik was brought in specifically to play on Drury’s line with hopes to spark the chemistry that the two players had in Buffalo three years ago. But after only four games, Kotalik is playing on a different line. Although Sean has played center in the past, I doubt that tortorella will replace Drury with Avery. So Drury will still be playing come Sunday.
Ryan Callahan has been playing great. He is at this time tied in tenth place in the NHL for checks. Did we expect anything different from him this year? He is a work horse and it paid off for him against the Caps in which he scored a shorthanded goal. You know Ryan will be playing this Sunday if his upper body injury has not gotten any worse since the Washington Caps game.
The third player on this line is now Christopher Higgins. Higgins has two assists and has yet to get a goal. Although his play has been ok, he has not stood out as expected, at this point in time. It is still early in the season of course, and we know he will start to produce as he should. But this is where we shall start in terms of Avery playing in Sundays’ game. Drury, Callahan and Avery look pretty good.
The Rangers third line of Kotalik, Anisimov, and Lisin looked very good against the Caps. The Caps are most definitely one of the best teams in the NHL. From their top line down they are all very impressive players. However this young line looked dynamite against the Caps every time they took the ice. I would hate to see Lisin be replaced for Avery. But due to his lack of defense which did look better the other night, you would have to expect Avery taking his spot on the roster.
I have nothing against Avery, I think he is and can be an extremely good player when he is focused as he showed last year when he returned. However I do love when the young guys get to play and show what they can do. I hate to see this line be broken up before they get a legit chance to explode. They look good enough to keep together.
As for the fourth line of Brashear, Voros and Boyle, I like that Tortorella has been using them against the top lines. I am all for the physical play and banging their oppositions’ top line players. Voros had a bad penalty last game and Tort laid into him. But in the same sentence turned around and put Voros right back out on the ice. Since Avery is coming back from an ankle sprain, maybe Tort would like to keep Avery’s ice time to a minimum and have him play on that fourth line. I doubt it, but there is always that chance when it comes to Tortorella. Maybe Avery will be a spark in that line and they might even knock in a goal.
If you scratch either Voros or Brashear what do you really lose? A little bit of muscle but not much and you now just created a line that can most definitely be a scoring threat with Avery added to it. If you scratch Lisin or Higgins you take away scoring. In Lisin’s case you add defense, but Lisin is definitely a more threat to score then is Avery. This is a tough decision for Tortorella if he hasn’t made up his mind from the get go. Avery comes in, Lisin sits. To me that fourth line spot would be perfect. Just for now anyway to see how it goes. You do not lose a thing really because Avery is so physical when he is on the ice. Just a thought.
What will Avery bring to the game? He plays physical and loves to get into the skin of his opponents. He has speed and has a really nice shot that is under rated due to his style of play and the issues that has plagued him these last few years. He has shown in the past, that when he is focused, not only can he score, but his presence on the ice ignites his teammates. Avery has an eye for the open ice, as well as the open teammates. He plays defense very well, and he is not shy to lay a hard check on anyone. He has no problems with dropping the gloves and either giving or taken a beating for the team. He will be an added addition to the lineup without question, but whose spot will he take.
Lisin just came off a very impressive game, Higgins is struggling just a tad and you lose nothing if you place Avery on the fourth line. It is going to be interesting to see what Tortorella does. I am looking forward to Sunday! Until then, enjoy and be safe my friends!