Because it is apparently our obligation as reporters to throw pure gasoline on the Avery vs. Toronto feud, I will have more on the Rangers resident instigator in tomorrow’s paper and at LoHud. I’ll hold today’s nuggets on Avery until then, so instead I offer you Jaromir Jagr and Scott Gomez’s insight into why they hope they are clicking better this time around.
My questioning was triggered on the heels of Wednesday’s game. Gomez was talking about how well he and Jagr played and he made a point of praising Marty Straka. I thought it was interesting, so I asked Gomez and Jagr about Straka today.
“I think it kind of goes to Marty. We’ve had Marty on the line and he kind of brings another element,” Gomez said. “The guy just works so hard, he does so much in the D zone, so much offensively. At the beginning of the year we didn’t have that. The credit goes to him. I wish I could say it a different way, but he’s been the reason.”
I asked what Straka does specifically and Gomez said: “He does everything. He gets open, he digs the pucks out, he creates offensively. When you see a guy on your line constantly working like that and bringing it, you gotta go. I think the success of our line is because of him.”
Jagr, who has played with Straka forever and who we know has always supported his countryman, almost seemed surprised to hear what Gomez had to say. The captain has always respected Straka so much and he isn’t surprised at how much he can help.
“I’ve played with Marty for a long time,” Jagr said. “He’s got enough patience, enough skill, to hold the puck when we need him to.”
Other items of note:
â€” Brendan Shanahan didn’t practice today. He had a sore hamstring and sat out for precautionary reasons. Renney expects Shanny to play tomorrow in Toronto.
â€” Predictably, Nigel Dawes was on a morning train to Hartford. (I actually don’t know how he got to the home of insurance, but I do know he’s been shipped back to the AHL.) Renney said Dawes can be sent back and forth, which made him an obvious candidate for a demotion, and that he’s currently a little limited because he is a scoring LW still working on his skills as a penalty killer. However, the coach assured that Dawes’ time is near: “It really is only a matter of time,” Renney said. “Whether he secures it in the next couple weeks, months or this year, Nigel Dawes is going to play for the New York Rangers.”
Renney said Dawes kills penalties in Hartford now, so presumably that is with the goal of expanding his game.
â€” Don’t expect much in the way of lineup changes tomorrow night. The only exception is Marcel Hossa, who Renney said is “a consideration for us” because of his defensive play and size. If Hossa plays, I wouldn’t expect to see him anywhere but the fourth line.
â€” Do yourself a favor and read tomorrow’s story in the paper or online. Should be a fun read. Basically, Jagr said some really nice things about Avery’s skill vs. his role as instigator and then teased him about it when Avery walked by. Only in a hockey dressing room…