Sean Avery and the Rangers Get Russian Lessons

Martin AverySenior Writer IApril 22, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 20: Sean Avery #16 of the New York Rangers interferes with goaltender Simeon Varlamov #40 of the Washington Capitals during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Round of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 20, 2009 in New York City. The Capitals defeated the Rangers 4-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

“All hockey players speak two languages: English and profanity.”

—Gordie Howe

One lasting image from Game Three of the first round playoff series between the New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals was Sean Avery jawing at Simeon Varlamov and the Capitals goalie ignoring the infamous agitator.

Varlamov calmly removed his goalie mask and looked away while Avery talked a blue streak, sending it in his direction. How could the young goalie ignore Avery, who gets under the skin of almost all other goaltenders?

He tapped Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins and he exploded. He aped Martin Brodeur in the playoffs last year and he complained until the NHL created "The Avery Rule" for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Varlamov acted as though Avery was invisible, which may have been part of the Capitals game plan. Sources close to the Caps say he was able to ignore him because Varlamov does not speak English.

Avery does not speak enough Russian to get Varlamov’s attention, apparently. The Capitals’ Russians gave Avery and the Rangers a few lessons in that game, for no extra charge.

Alex Ovechkin taught the Rangers that he can play defense and contribute more to the Capitals than just taking a dozen shots on net. Alex Semin taught them he can take over the scoring if they shut down Ovechkin.

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Varlamov taught the Rangers he is harder to beat than their number one goalie, Jose Theodore. Since then, the Rangers have learned Varlamov may be great down low but he can be beat up high. That’s the book on the rookie goalie from Russia.

The Rangers’ Russians, Nik Antropov and Nik Zherdev, can translate for the New Yorkers, who are known as a United Nations team, as they have some of the best hockey players from all over the hockey-playing world.

Antropov was born in Ukraine, but has Russian citizenship. The Rangers must be hoping that having a couple of Russian forwards in their line up will translate into goals against Varlamov.

Zherdev is stuck at 99 goals, so he will be looking for No. 100 against his countryman. Antropov has been scoring a goal every other game for the Rangers, so he’s due, too.

Maybe Antropov and Zherdev will teach Avery a few choice words in Russian so he can trash-talk in a second language and get Varlamov’s attention off his game.

How do you say “Yo’ momma!” in Russian?