Shocker: Rangers scratch Sean Avery for tonight's game

avery.jpgI never really understood why the New York Rangers picked up Sean
Avery last season. I understand the thought process and the reasons
behind it; Avery could be had for half of his salary and the team and
fans needed him at the time.

But in the time where it was known
that the Rangers eventually would nab Avery and the time they actually
did, there was a coaching change and John Tortorella took over behind
the bench for New York. How would such a no-nonsense coach put up with a
player like Avery? Perhaps he would be the one to finally harness his
ability and make him into more than just an annoying player who
sometimes scores.

That hasn’t been the case. In fact, Tortorella
has done everything he can this season to suppress Avery and his
shenanigans. Well, everything except scratch him.

Until now. Sean
Avery will be a healthy scratch tonight against the Atlanta Thrashers
,
another team that is in desperation mode as they both fight for a
playoff spot.

“We’ve asked him for a while now for
more engagement and honestly, we
just haven’t seen it,” Tortorella said following the morning skate in
preparation for tonight’s match here against the Thrashers. “[That’s in]
all facets.”

“Whenever I get my next opportunity that’s what I’m
going to have to
do,” said Avery, who when then asked what exactly he meant, responded,
“I’m going to keep that to myself.”

I’m of two sides
on this one. If the Rangers and John Tortorella never intended to
embrace Avery and everything he brings to the table then they never
should have picked him up. It’s been a battle every since and neither
side has seemed to be able to agree on exactly what approach they want
Avery to take.

However, Avery is a wildly inconsistent player and
that is maddening to a coach. He has all the ability to be a dangerous
player each night, yet is driven by emotion and self-motivation. Perhaps
the coach is doing everything he can to bring out that emotion each and
every game and he’s just not seeing as much as he would like. Whatever
the case, it’s an ugly situation that is playing itself out just as the
Rangers are fighting for a playoff spot.

Personally, I love seeing
Avery’s hand held to the fire like this. I know there are some who
think he’s being misused by the Rangers’ coach, but for a player who is
as self-serving as he is there has to be a reality check at some point.
It seems being released by the Stars last season helped a bit in
bringing him down to earth, but obviously the coach doesn’t feel it’s
been far enough.

Should make for an interested finish to the
season, at least.

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    Ovechkin shrugs off Caps’ Game 1 loss in very Ovechkin way

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    You know, it happens. Maybe not always in those exact words.

    The Washington Capitals carried the play during portions of their 3-2 Game 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and even down 1-0 in the series, just about every player seemed happy with their overall game.

    (Granted, Braden Holtby picked apart two of the three goals he allowed, and so on.)

    Still, Alex Ovechkin shrugged off the disappointment in a way that wasn’t quite Rated R, but probably ranks in the PG-13 range:

    The penalty element is interesting, though.

    When asked after the loss about the lack of power plays, Matt Niskanen merely offered a “no comment.”

    The Penguins experienced some sprawling moments, yet they avoided taking a penalty each time. Often, when a team carries long sequences of play, they’ll go on the PP (especially with home-ice advantage) … but not the Capitals in Game 1.

    via Natural Stat Trick

    It’s a situation to watch as the Capitals hope to even the series against the Penguins with Game 2 coming on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. (You can watch online, via the NBC Sports App and follow the livestream here).

    Holtby takes blame for two big goals in Caps’ loss to Pens

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    It’s just about a consensus that the Washington Capitals believed that they generally played a strong game despite falling 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    Braden Holtby‘s teammates likely wouldn’t agree with his assessment that the Game 1 loss is on his shoulders, but the perennial Vezina candidate took the blame for Sidney Crosby‘s first goal of the night and Nick Bonino‘s game-winner.

    Noting that the Penguins are a dangerous rush team – making them a different threat than the Toronto Maple Leafs – Holtby believes that he should have had his glove in position to stop the 1-0 goal. He said he’s capable of making such a stop and “will next time.” Check out Crosby’s two goals below, with Holtby having a beef with the first one:

    It’s really difficult to place too much blame on Holtby for giving up Nick Bonino’s game-winner, as it seemed like a great rush play that few goalies would be able to stop.

    Judge for yourself in the highlights:

    The Penguins were ultimately able to take a 1-0 series lead, but the Capitals seem capable of shrugging off questions about frustrations, even with naysayers starting to gain confidence in claiming that there will be more than the same.

    If Washington’s going to get over this big hurdle, Holtby is likely to be a big part in doing so.

    Fleury, Penguins hang on for Game 1 win against Capitals

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off a 3-2 Game 1 win against the Washington Capitals, but Thursday’s thriller probably prompted a sigh of relief.

    (Washington, meanwhile, might have uttered a sigh at such unpleasantly familiar feelings.)

    The first period ended 0-0 in part thanks to Jake Guentzel‘s sprawling “kick save.” Business really picked up in the second after Sidney Crosby raced off to two quick goals, only for Alex Ovechkin to give Washington a shot thanks to a booming goal and some physical play.

    It sure felt like this one might head to overtime, especially after Evgeny Kuznetsov was tying things up and flapping his arms like wings. That was not to be, however, as Nick Bonino took advantage of a pretty area pass to beat Braden Holtby for the decisive tally.

    Now, it was only decisive because Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game. Oh, and also because the Penguins did a collective Guentzel impression in frantically denying a tying tally.

    Makes you want to wipe some sweat from your brow, eh?

    The Capitals dominated by just about every statistical measure … except, of course, goals on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh will gladly take that 1-0 series lead, then.

    Expect a desperate Washington team in Game 2, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App (click here for the livestream link).

    Karlsson makes difference for Senators vs. Lundqvist, Rangers

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    Swedish superstars Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson were both stupendous in Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

    Still, it was Karlsson’s game-winning goal (from a seemingly impossible angle) against Lundqvist that made the difference as the Senators beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday. With that, the Senators are up 1-0 in the series.

    That Karlsson goal really deserves a special look.

    Whether you blame that 2-1 tally on Lundqvist or not, the Rangers would be foolish to do anything but praise their red-hot franchise goalie. He stopped all 21 Senators shots in the first period and ultimately made 41 out of 43 stops in defeat.

    Craig Anderson was strong in his own right, mind you, stopping 34 out of 35 shots (including all 28 at even-strength) to help Ottawa take that tight contest.

    Anderson’s strong play highlights the fact that Rangers – Senators doesn’t merely come down to Lundqvist vs. Karlsson … but even so, both Swedish superstars really did stand out in this one.

    Game 2 airs on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream link.