By Eric Bancker
His first game after being a healthy scratch, Sean Avery delivered one of his best performances of the season and helped get the Rangers a much need two points against the underachieving Philadelphia Flyers.
Avery was the center of attention in yesterdays game. He netted his 9th and 10th goals of the season and drew plenty attention from Flyers players, primarily Scott Hartnell and "tough guy" Daniel Carcillo. Avery was able to draw two penalties in the game, one a roughing call on Scott Hartnell in the 2nd period and and interference call on Braydon Coburn in the 3rd.
The Flyers opened up the scoring in the 1st, when Daniel Briere took a wrist shot from on top of the left circle, beating Lundqvist for his 24th goal of the season.
Then in the 2nd period Sean Avery was able to help the Rangers take over the game. 1:53 into the 2nd period Avery was able to shovel in Wade Redden's garbage and score his first goal of the game. Then three minutes later Michal Rozsival showed that when you make over $5 million that its ok to score a goal. Rozsival scored only his 3rd goal of the season on a booming shot from the point on the powerplay, giving the Rangers a 2-1 lead.
The 3rd period was rather slow paced, the Rangers played very conservative defense to preserve their lead. Then 14:05 into the 3rd, Sean Avery was able to catch the Flyers on a change and came down the left wing and fired a seemingly harmless shot past Flyers goalie Michael Leighton who could only look down in disgust as he gave up a bad angle goal which put the Flyers away. But that didn't mean the nasty stuff would stop. With about four minutes left, Flyers captain Mike Richards got into a fight with Rangers centerman Brandon Dubinsky. Dubinsky was able to take it to Richards and showed how everything was just right for the Rangers yesterday.
The Rangers now sit 9th in the conference only one point behind the Boston Bruins, the only bad news for the Rangers is that Boston has two games in hand. If the Rangers stand any chance of making the playoffs they are going to have to win at least eight or nine of their last thirteen games. Can the Rangers do it? I don't think so. Even if they limp into the playoffs they don't stand a chance of making it out of the 1st round. They would most likely have to play either the Capitals, Devils, Penguins, or Sabres. Now let me ask you this, what do all these teams have in common? Oh that's right they are the teams that have knocked the Rangers out of the playoffs in the last four years
Devils in 2006-Swept the Rangers in the 1st round
Sabres in 2007-Beat the Rangers in 6, after ex-Sabres captain and now current Rangers captain Chris Drury pulled his heroics in game 5.
Penguins in 2008- Beat the Rangers in 5
Capitals in 2009- Over came a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Rangers in 7.
The Rangers should just focus on this offseason and trying to get this back to being a respectable hockey team. The Rangers need to clean house management wise. GM Glen Sather is only making things worse and should have been fired a long time ago. I personally was all for the "Fire Sather Rally". If Sather does stay then he will have to pull another Scott Gomez type deal and move either Drury, Rozsival, or Redden. Those three players make roughly $18-19 million combined and their combined point total for the season is 58. Marian Gaborik gets paid $7 million and has 73 points in 63 games. Three players that make almost $20 million and who were supposed to help this team offensively have combined for 15 points less the team leader. That's ridiculous.
The Rangers are back in action tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden as they take on the Montreal Canadiens, another team fighting to stay in the playoff hunt so look for both teams to make this a playoff game type atmosphere.