With the Rangers losers of seven of their last nine, the Sean Avery factor will again be put to the test tonight against the Eastern Conference-leading Senators.
The left wing, originally scheduled to return no sooner than the day after Christmas, said his wrist made significant progress in the last few days, and was deemed fit to play tonight against Ottawa.
“The bottom line is he can’t do any damage to it, he can’t hurt himself at all, so as long as it’s not prohibitive from a pain perspective, which it isn’t, (he’s fine),” Tom Renney said.
Avery’s impact on the Rangers when he’s in the lineup has been well documented, dating back to his arrival last season but also this year in between his shoulder and wrist injuries, when the Rangers went 8-3-1 and surged into first place. Now with the team again struggling, he’ll be counted on to provide an immediate lift.
Meanwhile, Renney originally said Petr Prucha would be a scratch to make room for Avery. But while Prucha was lingering on the ice after the morning skate, he was called off the ice by the coach, which could suggest the coach is contemplating putting him back in.
In other news:
<li>Paul Mara is the other healthy scratch tonight, which means Marek Malik goes back in, only now most likely alongside Jason Strudwick. With those two together, the Michal Rozsival-Marc Staal pairing remains intact.
<li>Marcel Hossa has also been slow to recover from the flu, so he’s out as well. Nigel Dawes is still with the team, and assuming that Prucha remains a scratch, Dawes will probably skate on a third line with Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan. Renney said the first line and fourth line will definitely remain intact.
More from the Garden later…