As I said in my last entry, I thought after Game 1 that Sean Avery would dress for Game 2 in Washington tonight, and I guess coach John Tortorella took my advice.
Avery brings some grit and physical play that Mats Zuccarello does not. Avery also is strong on the forecheck, the key to the Rangers' system all season. Zuccarello is obviously more gifted offensively, but was given only 7:33 of ice-time in his playoff debut Wednesday night.
“I’m ready to go,” Avery said. “I just play now. I just play. I don’t worry about anything, I just play my game.”
Obviously with Avery, you run the risk of a bad penalty. It's been well documented that the former Vogue intern doesn't get the benefit of the doubt in the eyes of the referees, but you have to take the good with the bad. The Capitals have a very fragile playoff psyche, especially defenseman Mike Green. Look for Avery to be the sandpaper player he has been in past years, most notably 2007 and 2008.
Zuccarello will be scratched, but with Tortorella, don't be shocked if we see him again in the series. This team is still starved for offense, and Zuccarello has the skill to put a puck or two in the net when given the opportunity.
“I think through some experience (he can compensate),” said Tortorella before Game 2. “I mean, this has been a long year for him, as far as up and down, learning the new game in North America, the smaller rink, playing in the minors, where everybody’s chasing you around. I think through experience, and he did get a little bit the other night, that again, we don’t know. It’s still an open book for him, as far as where he sits as a National Hockey Leaguer. He’s added, obviously—I just think he adds, he sees the ice, he makes some plays that I think some players don’t see.”
Avery isn't the game-changer he once was, but after the anemic offensive performance displayed by the Blueshirts, changing up the lineup a little can only help.
Matt Gilroy, who scored the lone Ranger goal in Game 1, will stay in the lineup. Steve Eminger will be scratched for the third straight game, dating back to the regular season finale last Saturday.