The Rangers go to D.C. tomorrow to face a team that ought to test their aggressiveness and the inconsistencies they’ve shown defensively in the first three games. I saw some of the Capitals’ game against the Flyers last night, and man, both teams looked pretty darn good.
Anyway, the Rangers might get their sandpaper back, their agitator. Sean Avery has been targeting tomorrow as his return from an MCL sprain.
And here is the natural question, which is perhaps even more complicated by the two-game winning streak:
Who comes out of the lineup for Avery? (the Rangers played Games 1, 2 and 3 of this season with the same 19 players).
So who comes out?
1) Aaron Voros. Perhaps. But the fourth line has been fairly effective so far, and I don’t think Avery will play on a fourth line, and I doubt that anybody Avery would bump down to the fourth line would give that threesome the same characteristics.
2) Brian Boyle. See No. 1. Plus he kills penalties.
3) Donald Brashear. Yeah, right. Not at $1.4 million, and not against his old team.
4) Enver Lisin. Maybe. Avery could slip seemlessly into the third line wing spot. Lisin hasn’t been bad enough to deserve a demotion, but Avery does bring something extra.
5) Ales Kotalik. Not going to happen. Too important to the team, too much of an investment, the coach likes him, and he’s become critical to the power play as a point-launcher.
6) Artem Anisimov. I suppose, if Anisimov is scratched, Vinny Prospal could slip down to play third-line center and Avery could move to the first line. Or Avery could play on the second line and somebody else move up to Prospal’s spot on the left of Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik … if Tortorella wants to break up the top line’s chemistry.
I do believe Anisimov will not spend the entire season with the Rangers, that he’ll be in Hartford for stretches, unless he lights it up offensively. So far he hasn’t. But he is pretty decent defensively for a scorer.
What to you think they’ll do? Is it even imaginable that Avery will be ready to go, and that Tortorella will hold him out?