The Rangers got a break last night when Florida lost to the Atlanta Thrashers thereby protecting their two point lead for the final playoff spot. They got no breaks today as they were again shutout by the Bruins in Boston, 1-0. They remain two points ahead of Florida and the Panthers have a game in hand. To make matters worse the Rangers are only four points ahead of a resurgent Buffalo Sabre team, while Buffalo has two games in hand. The Rangers must rely on their hated rivals, the Devils and the Penguins, to secure a playoff spot. The Devils play Buffalo tonight and the Penguins play Florida tomorrow night. Gone is any pretense of the Rangers making a run for a higher playoff position. They proved today that they have neither the talent or fortitude for that run.
The best chance the Rangers had was a four on three power play late in the third period. This was set up totally by Avery when, during a stoppage, he tapped goalie Tim Thomas on the head, which almost started a brawl. The Rangers came out of the scrum with the four on three advantage and did nothing. What seemed weird about the penalty call against Avery, and yes it was a penalty, is that none of the four officials saw it and they called it after the video board showed it. But, it was Avery so no matter whether you see it or you didn't. Whether he actually commits a penalty or not, if there is some kind of event on the ice, and Avery is on the ice he must be the sinner.
To make matters much worse Nik Antropov was clipped on a knee to knee hit by Milan Lucic and had to leave the game. There was no word on his injury and it is quite possible that he is finished for the rest of the year. So with three games to go the Rangers are hanging on for dear life. But as our Captain, Chris Drury stated, we have to forget this one and look forward to the next game. Or, something like that. Our Captain seems to be saying that quite often these days. I remember when we had a Captain who used to predict victories. Oh well, let's be happy for the little things. In the meantime, let's go Devils. Let's go Penguins.
Avery's 'accidential' hit on Tim Thomas.
Greg Wyshynski / Puck Daddy:
Sean Avery drops Zen robot act, hits Thomas with stick --
Was it an accident? Another case of Sean Avery: Victim of Circumstance? Another chapter in the "poor, misunderstood, well-dressed me against the world" book Avery's been writing for the last two seasons in the NHL? ...
Again, this is the main point we are emphasizing. When Sean Avery is involved the rule book gets re-written on the fly.
Rick Carpiniello / Rangers Review:
Avery Rule 2 --
So apparently referees and linesmen can call penalties from video replay. Actually, they can’t by rule or bylaw. But it appears that is exactly what they did when Sean Avery tapped Tim Thomas in the back of the hat Saturday in Boston.
And apparently, rules apply to Avery, but when they don’t, the NHL can just change them...
2nd update: One final take on this newly applied Avery Rule from The Gray Lady.
Stu Hackel / NY Times:
Rangers Not Dead Yet --
Sam Rosen has it right. The officials didn’t see it [the Avery tap] live, saw it only on the center ice scoreboard and called the penalty from that.This new Avery precedent begs the question: can the home team now control what penalties are called based on what it chooses to display on the center ice scoreboard?
Once upon a time (and probably even now) there was an N.H.L. regulation prohibiting arena personnel from showing replays like that for just that reason. On one hand, the officials ending up making the right call — matching minors to both Avery for unsportsmanlike conduct and to goalie Tim Thomas for roughing on the punches he threw at Fredrik Sjöström. But unless the league wants to move to reviewing everything up in the video booth or in the “War Room” in Toronto, the calls should remain on the ice with the officials, unaided by anything except video of goal/no goal calls as prescribed in the rule book...