NEW YORK – With the way Sean Avery is playing, maybe everyone on the Rangers should go through the NHL mandated Anger Management sessions.
Because the grating left wing keeps on scoring and making a difference for the Blueshirts. This time with two goals in the Rangers 4-1 win over the Flyers to salvage the back end of the home-and-home series.
“When he gets the puck, five guys on their team want to kill him,” said his linemate Scott Gomez. “The energy he brings when he is playing his style of going up and down, there is probably no one in the league faster just going straight up.”
Avery made his presence felt on both ends of the ice. Besides the obvious tallies, he also got into the Flyers’ heads with his grinding style of play, which made Philly coach John Stevens wonder is the old Sean had returned. “I think his probation period is over and now he’s back up to his old antics to be quite honest with you,” Stevens said. “We started worrying about him instead of playing the game.”
According to a few Philadelphia reporters, most of the Flyers disagreed with their coach. No matter, because Avery seemed very controlled today on the ice and off of it after the game. His energy raises the intensity of the Garden, which gives his team the slightest edge over their opponents.
“Sean is showing what he can do as a player,” Ranger coach John Tortorella said. “It’s not potential, it is what he can do as a player. If he just keeps up the concentration and continues to just worry about playing and not the other stuff, he can do things he has been doing for the hockey club.”
That includes scoring, blocking shots and grating on the opponent but more importantly: “They are not booing us, they are chanting ‘Avery,'” joked Ranger captain Chris Drury. “I will take that any day.”
Yet, it’s not some sort of therapeutic black magic that put Avery in this position. There’s more to it than that. Coming back to the Rangers has seemed to balance him and we was welcomed back by a group of players looking for something or someone who can lead them.
Although he’s not the prototypical leadership type, Avery was asked to step up by not just his teammates, but also Tortorella, who is a demanding coach to say the least.
“That is probably exactly what this organization needed,” Avery said. “He holds everyone accountable, including myself. Certainly, on a personal note, I feel like he is on me a lot and trying to get the most out of me and get the most out of all the guys.”
Even though Round 2 of the Avery Era has begun on a good note, he knows there’s still a lot of work to do. The small winger has to stay focused, because there’s a target on his back every time he’s on the ice. So he really has to have his head in the game.
“I probably think it has to do with my mindset and where my head is more than anything,” he said. “We talked about, after the first couple of games, how I was just so nervous and kind of playing a little too hard. So I was trying to slow it down and think about the plays and were things are going to end up and try and anticipate it.”
He probably won’t keep up the pace, as Avery’s type of play leads to little injuries which slow him down, but it doesn’t matter. The Rangers will use the Grate One to their best advantage and ride the little Gretzky like streak to wherever it leads them, be it the playoffs, a few round wins, or even further than that.