Got back from the Rangers/Devils game a little while ago. And I must say, that was certainly an exciting evening. It lived up to the hype, although perhaps not for the reasons most of us originally thought.
For it wasn't Avery and Brodeur.
It was Avery and Clarkson. Avery and, umm, Holik, Shanahan, Zajac, White, Langenbrunner, Rupp. . .need me to continue?
It seemed Avery was more in the heads of the Devils players than they were in his. And that is where Sean has been effective against them and where he can be effective against them going forward.
If I were New Jersey, for that reason alone, I would not want to face New York in the playoffs.
Sean can provide a decided edge. He did again tonight.
If there was a moment that disappointed me it was during the Clarkson/Avery scuffle, and not for Sean. I was not disappointed in Sean. I was disappointed with the refs, I guess much in the same way many Rangers fans have been upset for a while now.
There is no denying that Sean Avery is being looked at differently while he's on the ice by the officials.
No doubt in my mind.
If the media, the other coaches, the other players, if they are all looking at him differently, what makes us think the referees are going to be any different.
The problem with that - the officials are supposed to be impartial. It's their job. But I guess we really don't have to go into a long and drawn out conversation on the overall state of officiating in the league now do we?
But it disapointed me. And if it continues, which I am afraid it might, it will continue to disappoint me.
Sean Avery did all that was asked of him and I personally think has done a very, very good job of holding himself in check since his return to the league earlier this month.
Does that mean he's been a perfect angel?
Please, I wouldn't recognize or want Sean Avery on my team if he were that.
But he's done nothing to warrant any major retribution. AND, he has not gotten the benefit of any calls when something is done to him. And it's the latter that is most disturbing. It is a blatant slap in the face to Sean, and his team. And it takes credibility away from a league that sometimes walks a very fine line in that departmnet already.
If Sean does something warranting a penalty - send him to the box. He'll go. But if someone does something to Sean - they should be sent on that same path. Anything less, is a detriment to the sport of hockey.
Oh, wait, you've heard that one before.
Players that physically hurt their brothers in this league are given endless chances and infinite patience, sometimes to the degree that almost that confounds understanding.
And yet a guy that did nothing, really, except draw some negative attention to a minor moment of bad judgement and make himself look like a moron in the process - he has done the unforgiveable. He can't catch a break.
That is a shame.
And an embarassment.
I think we all as Rangers fans have one plea - let Sean be viewed the same as any player in this league. Let that endless and infinite patience fall on someone that has and can do good for this league on the ice and in the press. Let him play.
Putting him in this no-win situation is just asking for him to eventually snap. Not this year, but if it continues. Maybe that's what they all want. For the great voice to be right. That Avery is not a player in this league and that he's nothing more than a side show to it.
I hope with all I have that they don't get that wish, if that is what they are trying so desperately to do, and I hope that Sean Avery has the will inside him to withstand all that is unfairly being thrown at him.
The league has a lot of villians to contend with. Like it or not, Sean Avery is not one of them.
Other game notes:
Larry Brooks was quoted in today's NY Post as saying:
"But to believe that Avery-Brodeur is somehow just a sideshow is missing the point, which, quite simply, is that Avery the Ranger is as singularly responsible for tilting the rivalry Manhattan's way as anyone since Mark Messier."
I will agree, to the extent that he is one of the two people. Applaud Sean Avery for being a MAJOR reason that New York has once again become a respectible rival to the Devils once again. For he is. He truly, truly is. And not for the antics, if you will. But because he is, and I continue to believe in this, a legit hockey player.
BUT...in applauding Avery, I don't think we should forget about the other guy, Henrik Lundqvist. Including tonight Hank is 14-5-4 versus New Jersey and 14-2-4 against Brodeur. (*I want to confirm those numbers*). And he has an incredible GAA too.
That is domination right there. And - and! - he did it last year when it counted. In the playoffs.
So as much as the world wants to focus on Avery and his play against New Jersey - again, rightfully so - do not lose track of the fact that Hank himself plays masterfully against New Jersey and deserves applause as well.
It is so nice after being on the bad side of a one sided rivalry for seven years, to finally be on an upswing.
Kudos Avery. Kudos Hank.
Lastly, Naslund, in what I saw of him, looked like a much more determined man tonight. It might be a flash in the pan, but it's something to keep an eye on going forward as the season closes out.
Around the League:
Just have to mention this. On my way home I listeded to a bit of Coyotes/Stars and in the first intermission they did a 'Hot Stove Report" of sorts. Now, Dave Strader was on Versus with the Dallas Stars guy, so Darren Pang jumped to Dallas TV. This was the Coyotes radio broadcast team; forgive me for missing names here. The whole segment began and ended with the song "love the one you're with." (Kinda a play on the fact that so many regular broadcast partners were in different places tonight). Anyway, a question is asked and answered by [fill in the blank.]. The announcer then goes, "okay, Panger, you got sloppy seconds."
Yes, you read me right. On air, professional broadcasters used the term that almost had Sean Avery banned from this very league!
Now I am not stupid (at least I try very hard not to be). Granted Avery's context was different and his connotation might have very well been of the negative variety. But who has not - seriously, folks - used the term like the broadcasters did above?
Because, in all honesty here - which I do preach at NHTP - my first thought any time I hear sloppy seconds, and this includes the time Avery said it, is not anything sexual or negative.
I'm thinking the guys above, they probably were not thinking along those lines either.If we are being truly honest here.
Kudos from the broadcast crew (whose names I will find tomorrow) for the reunited Prucha-Lombardi-Upshall line that combined for a goal - (Just checked the score) - 2 goals so far on the night. It seems the three boys can play in almost any combination with their teammates and they all bring that energy and tenaciousness. That's the word I am going to use to describe the Coyotes in my three weeks watching them. Tenacious. On the puck, on the boards. Tenacious. They might not score a lot(although they are againt Tobias Stephan tonight) yet, but they are punishing other teams with their work ethic and consistent pressure. The goals, I believe, will come. And they did tonight. 5-3 in the 3rd.
**Thanks for reading. Goodnight folks.**
On edit: Prucha just got game winning goal in OT! More tomorrow. :) But to see the jump in his step. Well, well deserved.