Counterpoint: Why the Rangers will make the playoffs

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Avery3.jpgBoston Bruins vs. New York Rangers

12:30 p.m. EST – Sunday, March 21, 2010
Live on NBC

I can sum up why the New York Rangers will pass the Boston Bruins for
8th in the East and grab a playoff spot in two words:


No other player in the NHL has the ability to lead an
emotionally fueled charge in the playoffs like Avery does, and it
appears that coach John Tortorella knows exactly how to motivate his
controversial players. Why else would he scratch Avery in the midst of a
push for a playoff spot, when Avery seems to be the only player on the
team capable of showing any emotion whatsoever?

The Rangers were
able to win the game without Avery — which was a bit surprising — but
then Avery returned to the ice the next game and led his team with two
goals in a crucial win over the Flyers.

Of course, the Rangers
have lost two in a row, so I guess it’s tough to maintain that level of
emotion from game to game for Avery. So here is what I propose: tick him
off with limited ice time and perhaps scratch him once every three
games. It’s obvious that Avery is the only player on the Rangers that
actually rises to the occasion and plays hard after being benched, but
that only lasts so long. If the Rangers can win at least two of three or
even three of four down the stretch, with Avery being systematically
angered down stretch, then it’s the perfect combination for the Rangers
to pas the Bruins in the standings.

That would never happen, of
course. But for the Rangers to even think they have a chance of making
the playoffs, Sean Avery is going to have to be at his all-time most
annoying for opposing teams. I’m not talking about him just angering
Marty Brodeur or starting some brawls every now and then; he needs to
score goals

Let’s be realistc for a second, though. The Rangers
need Avery to be in top form, but there’s no way they’ll even sniff the
playoffs unless they start to get some leadership from the players
expected to actually be leaders on the team. Sean-freaking-Avery is not
supposed to be the best leader on a team; if that’s the case then I feel
for the state of that locker room.

Video: Mike Fisher ends Nashville’s nasty goal drought

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No, the Nashville Predators did not forget how to score goals … or at least they were lifted from that amnesia on Wednesday.

Mike Fisher lifted the curse 13:52 into the first period of tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. You can watch that rare beast in the video above.

They had been shut out for three straight games and pretty close to four in pure game time.

On this subject, PHT’s Jason Brough asked Predators GM David Poile if he was considering moving a defenseman to improve in another area earlier today.

Struggling Sabre Tyler Ennis out with upper-body injury

Tyler Ennis, James Wisniewski
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Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.

Perhaps some of that has to do with health?

Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.

The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.

“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”

He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Flyers-Islanders; Blackhawks-Sharks)

Ryan White, Matt Martin
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You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.

Here are the handy links for the two contests.

First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.


After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.


Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer