First, the news. Sean Avery practiced today, albeit in an orange “no-contact” jersey, and said his knee felt good, although he said he didn’t push it.
Avery will push a little harder tomorrow, but isn’t venturing a guess on his availability for Friday’s opener or Saturday’s home opener.
He said the new-wave PRP procedure he underwent last week—where his own blood was drawn, somehow shaken, and re-injected—seems to have helped recover from the MCL sprain he suffered in practice.
“I’m certainly ahead of schedule, so either it’s the PRP or I’m actually Superman like I claim to be,” Avery said.
He added: “They know with me that we just kind of go as I feel, and it’s tough to set guidelines because I don’t generally follow them too well. I like to just push it as quickly as I can, and be responsible, and our training staff are certainly some of the best, so they’re not going to let me do anything that’s going to put me in jeopardy.”
Last year, John Tortorella talked about how his aggressive system of play has to become instinctive, because there’s no time for thinking or decision-making.
So I asked him today if it has become instinctive now that he’s had part of last season, a playoff series and a training camp.
“No, no, it’s going to take some time,” Tortorella said. “We’re working on it every day, our neutral-zone forechecking, our deep forechecking, and all the different things as far as rush coverage. It takes time, and there’ll be some mistakes as we go through, as we start the season, but that’s when you keep on teaching. That’s when I think it becomes instinctive, when you’re constantly teaching after each game.
“I think as you get into late November, early December, I think your team concept is something that should be instinctive because we’re heavily laden in tape, the season is kind of spread out at the beginning of the year more than it is in the middle and the latter stages. So we’re going to keep working at it, and then we’ll back off the tape. When we feel it becomes more instinctive we get away from the tape a little bit and allow them to play and let it happen from there. We don’t want to map it out. You don’t want to over-coach it because it’s such an instinctive game.”
In particular, Tortorella said, the emphasis has been on the pressure in the neutral zone.
“Our neutral-zone forechecking … is some of the more important stuff because that middle zone determines where you’re going to play,” he said. “If we don’t get things taken care of, and jam that zone, we’re going to be playing in our own end zone. If we can jam that zone it gives us a better opportunity to go score a goal. Each day, and we’ve done it a lot here the past two or three days with tape and in practice, it’s getting better. So we’re happy. We’re happy with the camp. It’s gone really well. We stunk the two periods in Washington there … but other than that little bump I think the camp has gone very well.”
I also had a chance to ask (alternate captain?) Ryan Callahan about the adjustment:
“It was hard last year, him coming in, and we had two practices and we had to jump into a game,” Callahan sai. “It’s hard to teach a new system that quickly. It’s nice to have this whole training camp with him. I feel the guys are starting to get it. You can see it in practice and some of the preseason games, that it’s starting to become second nature and you don’t have to think about that.”
Still no contract for tryout defenseman Alex Semenov. … Some speculation that, since Yankee Stadium has announced an annual bowl game to be played around the holidays, the chances of a Rangers-hosted WInter Classic may be slimmer. … Always good to see the Captain around. Got to chat with Mark Messier for a while. He really seems to be enjoying his new role, plus—in case you didn’t notice—he kind of likes New York. … NHL 23-man rosters are due in by 3 p.m. today, but since a lot of cap math has to be done, they won’t likely be released to the public until tomorrow. Anyway, the Rangers are at 13 forwards and seven defensemen and two goalies, so they won’t need to make a move, although they might cut down once Avery comes back (and depending on Semenov’s status).
And because you guys seem to like this, here were the lines in practice: Voros, Brashear and Boyle; Prospal, Dubinsky and Gaborik; Callahan, Drury and Higgins; Lisin, Anisimov and Kotalik.