Monday, March 15, 2010

"Thanks For Waiting"

Maybe we've had it all wrong. Maybe Tortorella isn't at fault for not letting Avery be Avery.

Maybe we really needed Torts to motivate Sean to be Sean.

"Sean needs to realize that he's a really good player" John Tortorella told reporters after the game.

For weeks, Torts has been asking Sean to be more "engaged". But as Avery admitted last week - he wasn't exactly sure what his coach was talking about.

When Tortorella felt he had run out of other options - he made Avery a healthy scratch for the first time in his Ranger career.

It seems to have worked - because Avery came out of the chute yesterday fully engaged - energized - and ready to go. He responded by scoring two goals - drawing the Flyers into several penalties - and distracting them off their game. At one point Sean faked as if he were dropping his gloves to confuse and incite the Flyers. It all worked to perfection and the final result was a 3-1 desperately-needed Ranger win.

Our last two meeting with the Flyers had been shut outs - with the Rangers on the short end of the hockey stick. What was worse - the Blueshirts were pushed around physically by Philadelphia. So yesterday - with their playoff hopes starting to fade away - the team defended their home ice with toughness, intelligence, and skill. They limited the Flyers chances and made the most of their own.

And Brandon Dubinsky took on the Flyer's Richard in a fight late in the contest - showing he and the Rangers are ready to stand up to the team once called "the broad street bullies".

When it was over - reporters hung around hoping - expecting - to get an inflammatory quote from the volatile Mr. Avery. Here he had just responded to a benching with a two goal break out performance. And Sean had more than once let his mouth off the ice get him into trouble - most notably his remarks that got him kicked off of Dallas.

But, trying his best to stay out of trouble - Sean simply told reporters.

"Great game. Great two points. Thanks for waiting guys"

In may have been brief - but it's true. We have been waiting for Avery - the Avery we saw yesterday - for months now. And man, it's great to finally see him.

The Goalies: Hank faced just 18 shots and saved all but the very first one. The Flyers Leighton stopped 18 of 21. Very good to see Hank not let up a 3rd period goal in a close game - something he has unfortunately done quite a bit this year.

So was Lundqvist back on his game - or were the Rangers finally playing the right kind of defense? Some of both, probably.

Special Teams: The Rangers were 1 of 6 on the powerplay - the Flyers 1 of 4.

The New Veteran Rangers - Christensen had a pair of assists - but from Gaborik and Jokinen we had no scoring.

Your Returning Rangers - were the show yesterday. Avery of course had 2 goals. Rozsival had a goal - one he admitted closing his eyes before shooting. Drury had 2 assists. And defensemen Redden and Girardi had assists as well.

The Kid Rangers - were not on the score sheet tonight.

Defense on Offense
was a big factor - 1 goal and 2 assists.

In conclusion: Tortorella may have gotten his team into the exact mess they were in when he took over a year ago - but he's also well equipped for this - the short burst - the sprint to the finish - the push for the playoffs. We're not there yet - but with a 2 game win streak - hope is starting to perk up again in our Ranger hearts.
Next Up: Day off Monday and then we take on 7th seeded Montreal on Tuesday. Each game from here on out is a huge one.
Where we stand: 9th place and just 1 point below the 8th place Bruins. But Boss-town has two games at hand. We've got to keep winning to climb back in to playoff seeding.

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