The question posed to Tom Renney was if his own players know enough not to get caught up in Sean Avery’s antics seeing how most of them have seen the left wing operate up close.
“We have to be professional and really understand this is about two points and nothing else, and do whatever it is we have to do to secure them,” Renney said. “I would suggest strongly against us retaliating or getting caught up in this whole circus, which is pretty much what it’s about outside of our dressing room. We’re a pretty focused team.”
Of course they are focused, but that’s not the issue. If there’s a genius to Avery—outside of his ability to pick the right shoes to go with the right belt—is that he makes otherwise focused players unfocused. Every team talks about not letting Avery get to them, but not every player or team succeeds (see Devils, New Jersey, or Brodeur, Martin for more).
So if you’re asking me to guess, the answer is yes, at some point tonight Avery will say something fairly inappropriate to a Ranger and there will be a response. Maybe the response will be fairly harmless, or maybe it results in a penalty or some other type of mental error. The point is that just because you say you’re not going to let Avery get to you doesn’t mean he won’t.
Some other notes:
Except for here, of course.
Update, 6:41 p.m.: And so it begins. In warm-ups, Avery could be seen exchanging words with Stephen Valiquette, and then yapping at Brandon Dubinsky.
With Dubinsky, who was standing with his back to Avery at center ice, Avery skated by several times and seemed to be saying something to try to get a rise out of him.
Dubinsky mostly looked straight ahead.
Toward the end of warm-ups, Avery could also be seen saying something to Henrik Lundqvist, who was stretching nearby.
This should be fun…
Update, 7:04 p.m.: Looks like Avery is starting, against the Dubinsky line no less…
Update, 7:05 p.m.: Mostly boos for Avery the first time he touches the puck, then he’s in both Lundqvist’s and Dubinsky’s face.
Update, 7:07 p.m.: Rangers 1, Stars 0. Markus Naslund rams in puck that caroms off the end boards. Second goal of the year for Naslund but first since the team returned from Europe.
Update, 8:36 p.m.: Rangers 1, Stars 1. When you dominate the first period but only have one goal to show for it, this is the risk you run. The Rangers were flat in the second period and now have no wiggle room to work with.Â As for Avery, he’s been pretty much a non-factor so far, although he’s still found time to get into it with Paul Mara and Wade Redden during stoppages.
Update, 9:13 p.m.: Not a great night for a lot of Rangers, but especially Patrick Rissmiller, whose failure to clear the puck in the defensive zone indirectly led to Mike Modano’s go-ahead goal. Now the Rangers are on their way to dropping their third game.