New York Hockey: Sean Avery

W2W4: Rangers vs. Jets

April, 1, 2013
At a glance: After two straight shutout losses, the Rangers look to pick up the pieces Monday, when they return home to Madison Square Garden to host the Southeast Division-leading Winnipeg Jets.

Currently in eighth place, the slumping Blueshirts have the ninth-place Islanders nipping at their heels. The Islanders have a chance to pass their division rivals with a win over the New Jersey Devils in Newark, should the Rangers drop their third straight.

Fighting words: Following Saturday's 3-0 blanking in Montreal, former Ranger Sean Avery took to his official Twitter account to blast coach John Tortorella. Avery, a controversial winger who retired last season after being waived twice by the Rangers, tweeted "fire this CLOWN" and said the Rangers "hate" playing for the fiery Tortorella. Captain Ryan Callahan fired back the next day, releasing a statement that Avery does not speak for the team.

Deadline approaching: Monday will be the last chance for general manager Glen Sather and Rangers brass to evaluate the club before the NHL's trade deadline on Wednesday. Although the Rangers have never shied away from being aggressive shoppers on the big day -- they were engaged in discussions to land Rick Nash last season -- their recent play might dissuade Sather from going "all in."

Slim margin: Though they remain on top in the Southeast, the Jets also enter Monday's game on a two-game losing streak. The Jets lead both the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals by four points in their division. However, Carolina has three games in hand and Washington has one.

Players to watch: Winnipeg's Evander Kane has been impressive against the Rangers in the past. He has six goals and 10 points in 11 career games against New York, including a three-point game in the Jets' 4-3 win against the Rangers on Feb. 26. Meanwhile, first-line center Derek Stepan is the X-factor for the Rangers. Though he was held off the score sheet the past two games, Stepan had five points in the previous two.

Callahan responds to Avery tweets

March, 31, 2013
Rangers captain Ryan Callahan released a statement Sunday distancing himself and his teammates from former teammate Sean Avery's tweet that called Rangers head coach John Tortorella a clown who needs to be fired.

"Sean Avery's comments solely represent his own thoughts and opinions. He did not speak for us as a team when he was here and certainly does not now," Callahan's statement said.

After Callahan released the statement, Avery appeared to fire a shot back Sunday afternoon as he tweeted: "Find myself #listeningto Gotta Get Up by Harry Nilsson.....Relax with the official statements its kinda embarrassing. :) :) :) :)."

Following the Rangers' 3-0 loss to Montreal on Saturday night, Avery, who played under Tortorella for four seasons, tweeted: "Fire this CLOWN, his players hate him and wont play for his BS.... @imseanavery is #winning." Avery also retweeted a fan who said he'd take Avery over slumping Rangers forward Marian Gaborik.

Avery, who last played for the Rangers last season before retiring, has had his run-ins with Tortorella in the past. After being waived last season, Avery said that he didn't feel he was given a fair shot by the coach.

Avery's tweets calling for Tortorella's head come at a critical time for the Rangers. The Blueshirts are tied for the eighth and final spot in the playoffs with the Islanders, but have been blanked 3-0 in each of the past two games and have lost four of their past five.

Avery on Torts: 'Fire this CLOWN'

March, 30, 2013
Former Ranger Sean Avery may have retired from hockey, but he's still not shy about sharing his opinion.

The controversial winger blasted Rangers coach John Tortorella following the team's 3-0 shutout loss to the Canadiens in Montreal on Saturday night.

Avery blasted his former coach, with whom he had a tumultuous relationship, via his official Twitter account.

"Fire this CLOWN, his players hate him and wont play for his BS.....," Avery tweeted.

Avery, who retired last season, has questioned Tortorella before. After being waived by the team in training camp last preseason (he was eventually recalled) he made it clear he never felt he got a fair shot from Tortorella.

The Rangers have now been shut out in two consecutive games.

W2W4: Rangers vs. Canes

March, 13, 2012
At a glance: The Rangers go for a series sweep against Carolina Tuesday in the fourth and final meeting against the Canes this season. New York snapped a three-game skid with a thrilling 4-3 overtime win against the Islanders Sunday to open a seven-game homestand at Madison Square Garden.

Sick day: Although slated to make his third straight start Tuesday, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will miss the game due to illness. Martin Biron will start while Chad Johnson, recalled from the AHL Tuesday afternoon, will back him up.

Trap game: Could Tuesday be the classic type of "trap game" the Rangers are so desperate to avoid? Although the lowly Hurricanes are on the docket Tuesday, the Rangers will have to resist the temptation to look ahead to Thursday when the Blueshirts host the Penguins in what will be Sidney Crosby's second return form concussion symptoms this season. The 24-year-old captain confirmed Wednesday he will be in the lineup for Pittsburgh for the first time since December 5.

On the mend: Both captain Ryan Callahan (right foot) and Michael Del Zotto (right hip) are not expected to play. Neither player was in the lineup for the team’s 4-3 OT win against the Islanders Sunday and have yet to practice with the team since.

Last time around: Backup goaltender Martin Biron made 21 saves, Marian Gaborik notched his 30th goal of the season and Brandon Prust tallied the game-winner to beat the Hurricanes 3-2 in Carolina in the Rangers first game all season without Callahan.

Mats-sive effort: After being called up from the minors, Mats Zuccarello contributed in his first game back for the Rangers in almost five months. The 5-foot-7 Norwegian forward recorded an assist on Brad Richards’ second-period marker and received time on the team’s first power-play unit.

Retirement rumor: Is Sean Avery’s hockey career over? The 31-year-old antagonist announced on Monday’s episode of Bravo TV’s “Watch What Happens Live” that he is “officially retired.” Avery told the New York Post that it the comments were “no joke” and that he “couldn’t be happier about the situation," although he told via email that he will not make an official announcement until his 4-year $15.5 million contract expires at the end of this season. Although chances the Rangers recall him are highly unlikely, Avery said he is "still ready to go."

Power-ful play: Held without a goal in four games, the Rangers 28th-ranked power-play unit tallied three goals Sunday against the Islanders. It was the Rangers’ first game with three power-play goals since a 5-2 win against Philadelphia February 11.

Avery to retire?

March, 13, 2012
Is Sean Avery's hockey career over?

The polarizing 31-year-old forward said his playing days are done
during a segment of Bravo TV's "Watch What Happens Live" Monday night
and it appears he wasn't joking.

When asked by the show's host Andy Cohen about his future in hockey, Avery said:

"I am officially retired; I threw my skates in the Hudson [River]."

When reached via email Tuesday afternoon, Avery did not dispute the
comments but said he will wait to make an official announcement until
his four-year, $15.5 million contract expires at the end of this
season. Filing official retirement papers with the league beforehand
would mean he'd forfeit the remaining money owed to him on the deal.

And although any chance of the Rangers recalling him remains highly
unlikely, Avery told he was "still ready to go," in
that event.

This latest saga in Avery's tumultuous tenure on Broadway comes just a
week after he was told by the Rangers he no longer needed to report to
games or practices with the organization's minor-league team in
Hartford. Avery, waived twice by the Rangers this year, last played
for the AHL's Connecticut Whale January 27 and had since been
scratched indefinitely for "disciplinary reasons."

Avery told the New York Post's Larry Brooks Tuesday morning that he
plans on beginning a career in advertising next month.

"No joke, I'm retiring," he said. "Couldn't be happier about the situation."

Trade Deadline Day 2012

February, 27, 2012
The closest thing to a hockey holiday has arrived, folks.

The NHL's annual trade deadline is Monday at 3 p.m. and I'll be reporting live from ESPN headquarters in Bristol, CT all day. Make sure to follow the ESPN Hockey crew's live chat (starting at 9 a.m.) for all the buzz throughout the day.


Local storylines to watch:

-- As reported Sunday, the Rangers appear to be out on the Rick Nash sweepstakes. Barring a drastic change, a deal to bring the Blue Jackets captain to New York appears unlikely.

--Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov is garnering plenty of interest, but GM Garth Snow told Sunday the he is "not looking" to move him. Talks between Nabokov's camp regarding a contract extension are expected to continue MOnday.

-- Are the Devils done? GM Lou Lamoriello got a head start on Monday's deadline, trading for veteran defenseman Marek Zidlicky Friday. Zidlicky made his debut in the Devils 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay Sunday; could there be any new additions in Monday's lineup when the Rangers host the Devils at Madison Square Garden?

Devils @ Rangers at 6 p.m.'s Mike Mazzeo will be there for all the game-day action...

Also, you can follow each transaction with ESPN NHL's Trade Tracker here.

W2W4: Rangers vs. Jets

January, 24, 2012
At a glance: The Rangers face one last test before the league-mandated five-day All-Star break begins Wednesday in hosting the struggling Winnipeg Jets at Madison Square Garden Tuesday. While the Rangers are coming off a spirited 3-2 overtime win over the Boston Bruins this past weekend, the Jets travel to New York after Monday’s 2-1 loss to the Hurricanes.

Five straight: Although backup goaltender Martin Biron is 2-0 against Winnipeg this season, Henrik Lundqvist will make his fifth consecutive start. Biron will miss Tuesday’s match with the flu. The Rangers recalled netminder Chad Johnson from the AHL’s Connecticut Whale; Johnson will back up Lundqvist against the Jets.

A-OK: Banged up after Boston’s Andrew Ference’s suspension-worthy hit Saturday, Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh will still play Tuesday. The 22-year-old said he got the wind knocked out of him after hurling into the end-boards – Ference is serving a three-game ban for the hit – but suffered no serious injury as a result. Good thing for the Rangers, who depend on McDonagh’s minutes each night. The second-year blue-liner averages 25:18 per game, only second behind his workhorse defensive partner Dan Girardi.

Stay on top: The 30-12-4 Rangers aim to stay atop the Eastern Conference standings with a win over the Jets. Heading into Tuesday’s action both the Rangers and Bruins are tied with 64 points. The Stanley Cup Champion Bruins, who were honored for last June’s achievement during their visit to the White House Monday, face the 8th place Capitals.

Last time around: 2-0 against Winnipeg this season, the Rangers shut out the Jets 3-0 in the teams’ last meeting. Marian Gaborik tallied twice and backup goaltender Martin Biron posted a 23-save shutout – his first shutout in over two years.

Shipping up to Ottawa: While their teammates enjoy some rest and relaxation, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, defenseman Dan Girardi and forward Marian Gaborik will represent the team at the league’s 2012 All-Star Game in Ottawa, Ontario this weekend. Lundqvist is the assistant captain for Team Alfredsson, led by Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson. Meanwhile, the Jets will be the only team NOT represented at the festivities. Although defenseman Dustin Byfuglien was selected, he will miss the game with a knee injury. The league chose Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang as his replacement.

Bottom line: Riding high off Saturday’s statement game, the Blueshirts have a chance to create some momentum heading into an almost week-long respite. One major advantage? The Rangers will face a tired Jets squad playing on back-to-back nights following Monday’s loss in Carolina.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 3, Bruins 2 (OT)

January, 21, 2012

What it means: Saturday's showdown between the top two teams in the East lived up to its top billing. Marian Gaborik notched his second goal of the game to give the Rangers a 3-2 (OT) win over the Bruins in Boston's TD Garden. Gaborik tallied the game winner with less than four seconds to play in overtime, with the Rangers up a man after Andrew Ference's five-minute major and game misconduct.

Scary sight: With 3:10 left to play in overtime, Ference blasted Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh from behind and sent him crashing face-first into the end boards. McDonagh lay on the ice for several minutes before skating off gingerly and heading to the dressing room. Ference could face supplementary discipline for the play.

All tied up: After a scoreless first period, the Rangers and Bruins traded a pair of goals in the middle frame. Blueshirts captain Ryan Callahan tallied on the rush 1:31 into the second period and the Bruins answered with a goal of their own less than two minutes later on Ference’s backhander at 3:28. The Rangers again reclaimed the lead as Gaborik connected with a bouncing puck at the left circle, sending his slapshot past Tuukka Rask with 5:30 left, but the Bruins evened the score with less than a minute left. Defenseman Adam McQuaid was credited with a goal after his shot deflected off Rangers forward Brian Boyle and past a screened Henrik Lundqvist with 49 seconds on the ticker.

Perfect PK: With the Rangers whistled for the first four penalties of the game, the team's penalty-killing unit was clutch in stuffing Boston's power play. The Rangers, who entered Saturday's match 25-for-26 on the PK in the last 12 games, killed off all four.

Surprise starter: Bruins coach Claude Julien was cryptic in his pregame press conference when asked to name his starting goaltender, and for good reasons -- backup Rask received the nod. The 24-year-old Finnish netminder entered Saturday’s game with only two wins in five career starts against the Rangers, but boasted impressive numbers with a 1.62 goals-against average and .946 save percentage.

Back in a jiffy: When named one of the NHL’s 36 All-Stars earlier this month, Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi said he planned on staying away from hulking blueliner Zdeno Chara and his cannon of a shot. He didn’t Saturday, however. After blocking Chara’s slapshot for the second time in the first period, Girardi skated to the bench in pain. The 27-year-old, whose hand was looked at by team trainer Jim Ramsay, returned the next shift. Girardi, who has four goals and 13 assists this season, recorded his 100th career assist on Gaborik’s second-period marker.

Rough stuff: The top two teams in the Eastern Conference also lead the league in fighting majors. After the heavyweight bout between Mike Rupp and Shawn Thornton in the second period, the Rangers are first in the NHL with 36 fighting majors, while the Bruins are second with 33.

Up next: Rangers vs. Jets, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m.

W2W4: Rangers vs. Predators

January, 17, 2012
At a glance: The Rangers retain a one-point lead in the Eastern Conference standings but are looking for a bounce-back win after Sunday’s demoralizing loss in Montreal in which coach John Tortorella said his team played like “bantams.” The 28-11-4 Blueshirts will host the streaking Predators, who have recorded five straight wins.

Back in action: Brandon Dubinsky and Ruslan Fedotenko are both expected to return to the Rangers lineup against the Predators Tuesday. Dubinsky has missed the past three games with a shoulder injury, while Fedotenko sat out Sunday’s loss in Montreal with back spasms suffered in the team’s 3-0 win over Toronto Saturday.

Suter-less Preds: Nashville will be without one of their top two defensemen – Ryan Suter. The 26-year-old blue-liner, who has five goals and 20 assists in 45 games for the Predators this season, left the team’s 3-1 win over the Islanders Monday with an upper-body injury and will be scratched against the Rangers.

Speaking of Suter: With the NHL’s February 27 trade deadline nearing, Suter may top the wish list of many teams hoping to add a high-profile rental in preparation for the post-season push. Suter, who comes with a reasonable 2011-12 cap hit of $3.5 million, is set to become an unrestricted free agent in July. The Rangers will keep a close eye on Nashville’s maneuverings – the team will also be trying to lock up stud defenseman and restricted free agent Shea Weber, who was awarded $7.5 million in a contentious arbitration ruling this summer.

No Pekka: Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne will enjoy a well-deserved night off after a stellar 36-save effort against the Islanders Monday that allowed him to record his 24th win of the season. Backup netminder Anders Lindback will get the start Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, according to Predators coach Barry Trotz.

Wolski woes: Should both Dubinsky and Fedotenko return, 25-year-old winger Wojtek Wolski will come out of the lineup, coach John Tortorella told the media Tuesday morning. The inconsistent forward, who missed two months with a groin injury, has averaged only 6:50 in ice time over the last two games.

On the mend: Injured Rangers defensemen Steve Eminger (shoulder), Michael Sauer (concussion) and Jeff Woywitka (foot) all skated in orange non-contact jerseys Tuesday morning. Sauer, who has not played since suffering a concussion December 5 is “day-to-day” according to Tortorella. Eminger, who was originally slated to miss six to eight weeks after separating his shoulder one month ago, will not return until after the All-Star break.

Avery scratched for "disciplinary reasons"

January, 13, 2012
Sean Avery was scratched for Friday's game between the American Hockey League's Connecticut Whale and Norfolk Admirals. According to the Rangers, Avery is sitting out for disciplinary reasons.

The controversial 31-year-old forward, who was waived by the Rangers for the second time this season December 30, has one goal in four games for the Whale this season.

According to a New York Post report earlier this week, there are two teams interested on claiming Avery on re-entry waivers although the Rangers have no immediate plans to put him on again.

Rangers' midseason report card

January, 13, 2012

Rob Carr/Getty ImagesThe Rangers have had plenty of reasons to celebrate so far this season.
Hang this report card on the fridge. The New York Rangers are in line for some high marks as they hit the halfway point of their 2011-12 season. Through 41 games, the Blueshirts lead the Eastern Conference standings with a 27-10-4 record and 58 points, one point more than the reigning Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.

Here are our first-half grades.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 2, Coyotes 1 (SO)

January, 10, 2012

Recap | Box score | Photos

What it means: Derek Stepan scored the winner to give the New York Rangers a 2-1 edge in a six-round shootout over the Phoenix Coyotes at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. With the dramatic finish, the Rangers recorded their fifth straight win and 10th victory in the past 11 games.

Penalty shot: Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith made a spectacular stick save to rob Marian Gaborik on a penalty shot awarded with less than two minutes to play in overtime. Gaborik was impeded on a breakaway by Phoenix's Adrian Aucoin with 1:50 remaining in the overtime period.

Radim-ption: Coyotes winger Radim Vrbata ripped a quick shot from the right circle to tie the game 1-1 at 11:37 in the third. Ex-Ranger Michal Rozsival, a consistent target for MSG fans during his tenure in New York, recorded an assist on the equalizer.

Listen up: Before the game, coach John Tortorella said he wanted to see some contributions from Brian Boyle's line and hours later he got his wish. Ruslan Fedotenko's swivel-shot from the high slot gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead 2:27 into play. Both Boyle, who halted a 12-game scoreless skid, and Carl Hagelin picked up assists.

Captains clash: The Coyotes' Shane Doan had a hard hit on Rangers captain Ryan Callahan into the boards -- Callahan managed to stiff-arm him before the hit -- sparking a scrum late in the third. Both Brandon Dubinsky and Daymond Langkow received roughing minors.

Don’t count Dubinsky out: Crunched into the boards by Taylor Pyatt, Brandon Dubinsky left the ice before the end of the first period with a sore right shoulder. Dubinsky was not on the bench for the beginning of the second -- he missed his first turn with linemates Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan -- but returned to the ice for his second shift.

Early throw-down: Mike Rupp and Paul Bissonnette dropped the gloves 1:57 into play in a scrap that was indicative of a feisty and physical first period between the two teams.

AHL stint looming?: Wojtek Wolski and Erik Christensen, both of whom where scratched Tuesday, may be heading to Hartford. Tortorella confirmed in his pregame news conference that the possibility of asking the two players to accept AHL conditioning stints is “being discussed.” Wolski has not played since undergoing sport hernia surgery in November. Christensen has been scratched nine straight and has appeared in only four games since Nov. 23 against Florida.

Up Next: Rangers vs. Senators, Thursday at 7 p.m.

W2W4: Rangers vs. Phoenix

January, 10, 2012
At a glance: The Rangers aim for their fifth straight win while hosting the sputtering Phoenix Coyotes. Unlike the Blueshirts, who have won nine of their last ten games, Phoenix has struggled to gain traction in the Western Conference. Over the last ten games the Coyotes have posted a 4-4-2 record; Tuesday will be the first of their three- game road trip that also features stops in Detroit and Columbus.

Top of the heap: Riding a four-game winning streak, the Rangers sit atop the league standings with 56 points. The team’s 26-9-4 record has them one point ahead of Vancouver, with four games in hand. The Rangers’ .718 winning percentage – which clinched coach John Tortorella a spot as one of the All-Star Game coaches – is the team’s fourth best start through 39 games. According to Elias Sports Bureau, this is also their best start through 39 games since the 1993-94 Stanley Cup Championship season 18 years ago.

Hot hand: Henrik Lundqvist enters Tuesday’s match with a six-game winning streak. The 29-year-old Swedish netminder, third in the league in goals against average and save percentage, has a 1.17 GAA, .964 save percentage and one shutout during that six-game span.

False start: Unimpressed with his team’s first drill during practice Monday, coach John Tortorella sent his squad off the ice to re-group. The Rangers returned for an hour-long up-tempo session with a not-so-gentle reminder that they cannot afford to be complacent, especially while on top.

Fresh blood: The Coyotes claimed center Gilbert Brule off re-entry waivers from Edmonton Tuesday at noon. The 25-year-old has eight goals and 10 assists in 27 games with the Oiler’s minor-league club this season. The Coyotes also activated center Boyd Gordon off injured reserve; Gordon missed the last seven games with a lower-body injury.

Bottom line: Looking to rattle off their fifth in a row, the Rangers will look to use the home ice at Madison Square Garden to their advantage. Although lackluster at home last season, the Rangers are 12-3-2 at MSG this year, their best start at home through 17 games since 1995-96.

Rangers back to the grind with OT win

January, 6, 2012
In the first game of the rest of their season, the Rangers plugged away and prevailed 3-2 in OT against the Panthers at Madison Square Garden.

With the dog says ahead, Rangers face biggest challenge yet.

Column here.

W2W4: Rangers vs. Panthers

January, 5, 2012
At a glance: 7-3-0 over their last ten games, the Rangers enter Thursday’s contest in sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference standings. The 24-9-4 Blueshirts, who boast an impressive 11-3-2 home record, host the Southeast Division-leading Panthers. Florida has struggled of late but remains within five points of the top spot in the East.

Last time around: Brad Richards and rookie Carl Hagelin each tallied a goal and an assist in the Rangers’ 4-1 win over the Panthers last Friday. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist turned away 27 shots in the team’s Winter Classic tuneup to take a 2-1 season series edge. The two teams meet for the fourth and final time this season.

Biron in net: Martin Biron will make his tenth start of the season against the Panthers. The 34-year-old backup goaltender has been stellarbehind starter Henrik Lundqvist, posting a 7-2-0 record with .923 save percentage, 2.08 goals against average and one shutout. Biron was saddled with his first loss in five starts in the team’s 4-1 defeat against Washington last Wednesday.

Staal still working: With his long-awaited season debut during Monday’s Winter Classic, defenseman Marc Staal will play in his second game following a ten-month layoff while recovering from post-concussion symptoms. Tortorella eased in Staal with 12:41 spread out over 20 shifts on the team’s third defensive pair with Stu Bickel. Look for Staal to steadily increase his ice time each game as he aims to return to form.

Waiting his turn: Wojtek Wolski is finally healthy after undergoing sports hernia surgery November. The 25-year-old winger has played only six games this season and likely won’t return to the lineup against Florida. Rangers coach John Tortorella said the inconsistent forward will have to “wait his turn” to make his way back into the lineup.

Ban for Barch: The Panthers will be without forward Krys Barch, who was suspended by the league for one game for using inappropriate language in the Panthers' 3-2 win over Montreal Saturday.

Bottom line: In a battle between two of the top three teams in the East, the Rangers look to collect their third straight win before heading to Pittsburgh Friday for the second game of a back-to-back set. Meanwhile, Florida looks to gain some ground in the standings in hostile territory at Madison Square Garden.