Monday, November 14, 2011

"Mr. Avery - I have Brad Richards for you - on Line Three!"


I will say this about Ranger's Coach John Tortorella – he rewards hard work – in real time. When he sees a player hustling, fore checking, back checking, making things happen, John will give that player more ice time and move him up the ladder.

And so, when Sean Avery contributed a goal, 3 shots, an early fight, and a plus 2 night against the Hurricane on Friday – John took notice. And then he took action.

And so – when the Rangers skated in practice today – here's how the lines looked:


Anisimov-Stepan-Gaborik
Dubinsky-Boyle-Callahan
Avery-Richards-Fedotenko
Deveaux-Christensen-Prust

Yes – we all can see it. Sean has climbed off the fourth line and is now skating on the third. And what does it mean, exactly? Well, it means a whole bunch of things:

1 - It is sure to mean increased minutes for our favorite instigator. Sean will get a real chance to prove himself now

2 – It means Aves has climbed up over Deveaux, Christensen, and even Prust (our fireplug who has unfortunately been hurting this year). Which also means that as other forwards get healthly, Sean won't be the first to go.  He's top 9 now

3 – Sean will be skating with the best Center on the team. Brad Richards – our “top line” center is skating with Sean on the 3rd line. And what exactly, does that mean? Is Richards being demoted? He has the 2nd highest point total on the Rangers with 12 (trailing Marian Gaborik who has 15). His 5 goals trail only The Gifted One and Cally. So Brad's numbers look good – or do they? On a team that has 12 more goals than it's opposition, Brad is at minus 2.

So there is some question here: is this the 3rd line – or the 2nd? In a way it doesn't matter – Sean, Brad and Feds will be whatever their numbers say they are.

And by the way - seeing how well our naming the GAS line has gone (everyone has been using it) - we'll give Avery's new line a name too.  How about the StarLight Line - because Feds, Aves and Richards are all former Tampa Bay Lightning or Dallas Stars players (Brad is both).

However you look at it – this is a huge opportunity for Avery to claw his way back from the dead to a permanent position on this hockey team – the only team Avery has ever really wanted to play for.

As a 4th liner – and the last man called up – Sean was in perpetual danger of having his dreams yanked from under his skates and ending up back at the Hartford minor league affiliate. But Friday night changed that. Sean has an all star Center to play along side of – the best center Avery has ever had the opportunity to skate with.

Step 1 was the recall from Hartford. 
Step 2 was being activated. 
Step 3 was getting in an actual game. 
Step 4 came last week with the goal and the promotion.

How many more steps does our 31 year old Seanny have left in him? Well start to find out Tuesday night against the (hated) Islanders. But Avery has a real shot now – it's up to him to make it count.

I know Pucks Junior and I will be watching and rooting for Seanny with everything we've got. And I'll bet you'll be doing the exact same thing.

Come on, Aves, one more time, for all the old times.


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