A fixture in the Rangers lineup since being recalled from the AHL, New York center Sean Avery will be a healthy scratch tonight against Florida. Erik Christensen, who hasn’t played since Nov. 23, will draw back in.
“I don’t think Sean’s been dead-on,” head coach John Tortorella told ESPN New York. “Having said that, he hasn’t got a bunch of ice time. I’m just having problems finding ice for him. I have other guys that are filling areas and doing what I need done and I’m a little concerned about shootouts.”
This is obviously a nod to Christensen’s shootout prowess. One of the most successful takers since the shootout was implemented, he’s gone 24-for-46 over his career — the ninth-most goals in NHL history.
It’s also a nod to Avery’s declining role on the team. He’s only seen 10-plus minutes of action twice this year and played 29:38 over the last five games, with the enforcer/agitator minutes being eaten up by Brandon Prust and Andre Deveaux.
Christensen will center New York’s fourth line between Prust and Brandon Dubinsky, but his offensive abilities will see him get some second-unit powerplay time as well.
“You can see he shows signs of his talent, his skill, but again it’s a shift here a shift there,” Tortorella said. “We’re hoping he can become more consistent”
Yeah yeah, lingering beef alert. The last time these two played, Rangers forward Andre Deveaux received a 10-minute match penalty for deliberate injury after elbowing Tomas Fleischmann in the head:
Deveaux received a three-game suspension for the hit, one that drew the ire of Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen.
“The refs certainly got the right call calling a match penalty,” Dineed said. “That’s the kind of thing, again at the end of the year, you put together tapes of what’s really wrong with the game, that hit would be one of them.”
Enjoy the weekend, everyone.
Streak snapped: Howard won’t start for Detroit tonight
To put that in perspective, Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom and Philadelphia’s Ilya Bryzgalov each have 17 starts total. Boston’s Tim Thomas and San Jose’s Antti Niemi have 16. The last time Howard didn’t start for the Wings was on Oct. 25 in Columbus, which he missed following the birth of his son (Detroit lost 4-1, by the way.) Since then, a few things occurred:
— Joe Frazier died.
— The Muppets Movie was released.
— Brendan Shanahan suspended four players (Patrick Kaleta, Chris Stewart, Andre Deveaux, Max Pacioretty) for a total of 13 games.
— The Boston Bruins moved from worst to first in the Northeast Division.
“When you’re playing a lot, it’s good to get a little mental break here and there, but I enjoy being out there every single night,” Howard told Mlive.com. “Me being the competitor, I like to be out there for the guys, but at the same time Ty needs to play. It’s important to our team he gets on the ice and does a great job.”
Conklin hasn’t appeared in a game since Nov. 17, when he relieved Howard in the third period of a 5-2 loss to San Jose. He said he’s been treating practices like games as a way of staying sharp.
“That’s as much as you can do,” Conklin said. “Physically, you’re always skating. I think it’s just the mental stuff, getting prepared and staying focused for 60 minutes and getting into the flow of the game because things are going to be faster than they are in practice.”
“I’m very excited. It’ll be nice to get in there and get some action.”
Video: Shanahan explains Andre Deveaux’s suspension