How else to describe today's game? Sure the entire team played great. Sure the big four of the Thrashers, Hossa and Kozlov and Tkachuk and Kovalchuk all stepped it up. The foursome got a goal, Kovalchuk (1) and an assist, Tkachuk, and got 12 shots on goal and dished out nine hits but to no avail. With a goal (1) and an assist on Shanahan's (1) game winner, Sean Avery played as complete a game any Ranger has played this year. He put in 21:18 of ice time with 3:59 of power play time, 3:02 of penalty killing time, put nine shots on goal, dished out three hits and won 12 of 18 faceoffs for a 66% face off percentage. His goal was about as flukey and lucky as you can get but these were Philips Arena glass not MSG and his beautiful feed for Shanny's game winner was the play of the game. And yet, the dumb Atlanta hockey writers didn't even mention him as one of the top three stars of the game. Maybe he should have hawked Thrasher year books on the side. One Ranger, Lundqvist was picked as number two while Johan Hedberg with 37 saves was number one and Kovalchuk was number three.
Avery's game was much more than the stats. His constant harassment of Thrasher defensemen, his play in front of the Atlanta net and his work in the defensive zone were all a tribute to his work ethic and grittiness, and he took the rest of the Rangers with him. He was in every scrum, in every meeting near the boards, in every pile up in front of the net, any net, around any teammate who may have needed some kind of support. He even was an advisor to the refs and linesmen, who tried to ignore him. How do you ignore Sean Avery? Do you ignore an itch? Do you ignore a gnat on your neck? The Rangers acquired Avery on February 5th and the Rangers went 17-6-6 to end the season. He was as big a part of the Rangers getting into the playoffs as Henrik Lundqvist is. The Rangers could not have made the playoffs without either one.
I have often said that the Rangers key to the playoffs was Jaromir Jagr and Henrik Lundqvist. That is also true if they hope to make a serious run in the playoffs. However, we must now add another name to the list and that is the 5'10" 185 lb buzzsaw named Sean Avery. New York has a new star and he will be treated as such on Tuesday night at The World's Most Famous Arena.
Avery Bounces His Team To Win
This Is Why Shanny's Here: To Score A Game Winner
Loss Wasn't Moose's Fault
Blueshirts Land A 1-2 Punch
Grate One Does It All
One Check Rangers Don't Want To Give Holik
Avery, Rangers Rolling