I know that I promised to not get sucked into talking about Sean Avery and his media circus anymore, but I heard a loud cry go up from Boston this afternoon and you-know-who was the source of the uprorar. Take a look with Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley’s commentary:
Now, don’t get me wrong here, if you look at this for what it looks like on the surface, this looks like the same old Sean Avery antics where he’s a reckless, out of control hooligan making a mockery of the game of hockey and taking a piss on Toe Blake’s grave.
I don’t condone what Avery does, but what Brickley takes issue with here is that it is apparently Avery reverting to his old, reckless ways of playing hockey.
Sure, that’s one way to look at it and for what it’s worth, Brickley could be correct… But I don’t buy it for a second.
Believe it or not, Avery’s a smart guy and he knows exactly what he’s doing at all times. He is always looking to give himself and his team an edge. Sure, he goes over the top and creates more problems than not at times, but what went down today wasn’t one of those moments.
For the game itself today, Avery didn’t create a disadvantage for the Rangers, he got himself and another Bruin player taken off the ice on matching minors for nonsense. More room to skate for a couple of minutes helps out against a team like the Bruins that are very defense-minded.
I’m sure everyone noticed how calm and reasonable Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas reacted to this situation as well as he was the player that got booked for the retaliatory minor for roughing. Thomas went out of his mind bonkers going after Avery and ended up blasting Ranger Fredrik Sjostrom in the face with his blocker as Sjostrom skated in to intervene.
This is where Avery’s evil genius comes into play.
Avery and just about everyone else around the NHL by now knows that Tim Thomas has a bit of a short fuse. He’s shown it off on a couple of other occasions this season and Avery had the opportunity to light a fire today and certainly did that. The worst that happens? He gets sent off on a two-minute penalty and looks like a complete jerk for short-changing his team while they’re down 1-0.
The best that happens? Thomas gets thrown off of his game, gives up a goal or two and allows the Rangers to get back in the game. Avery then proudly wears the bulls-eye the rest of the game and allows Bruins players to retaliate at him at will. At worst, Avery gets a matching minor for being involved in these shenanigans but at best, his team gains a power play giving the Rangers a final window of opportunity to get back into a game they have to earn points in.
There is a bigger picture to be seen here, however. Avery wasn’t working just to make this game closer, he was sending a message that won’t be forgotten.
Remember the uproar over Avery’s antics in front of Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur last season? Sure you do…
The Devils certainly didn’t forget and that annoyance carried over into this season as well, so when the Devils and Rangers met up last week, the Devils players went out of their way to send a message to Avery that his antics wouldn’t be tolerated. The Devils lost that game 3-0, much in part to their obsession with taking shots at Avery who did everything in his ability to both resist retaliation and bring it out of the Devils even more.
Sean Avery is the Petulant Cerebral Assassin of the NHL and it’s a role he plays perfect. Yes, he’s got skill. Yes, he plays a physical game. Yes, he’s a trash-talker with the best and worst of them.
Yes, he plays on the edge – but that’s his world and he’s set up the Boston Bruins in his way. I’m not saying that it’s how the Rangers will find a way to beat Boston in the future, but if you think that today’s incident will be forgotten… Well, you’re crazy.
What makes this even better still?
These two teams might just meet up in the first round of the playoffs. Avery’s tactics have managed to make him Public Enemy #1 in New Jersey and the Devils can’t help but run around and try to kill him whenever they meet up and that’s all because he made their legendary keeper look like a jerk by embarrassing him in the playoffs.
Will there be another round with the Bruins and Rangers? We don’t know yet, even with just the handful of games remaining in the season. You better believe Sean Avery’s shadow has been cast for any meetings in the future, however and it’s up to the Bruins to stop themselves from trying to even up the score with him because in doing so, they might find themselves getting behind the 8-ball with the rest of the Rangers.