When I talk to Rangers fans I always get asked the question, "Why doesn't Torts play Sean Avery more?"
Well tonight that will not be in question. Against the Islanders, Sean Avery, every Rangers fan's favorite pest, will be on the top line with Marion Gaborik and Erik Christensen.
I believe this means two things: First, John Tortorella is looking for the right combination to get Gaborik going. Avery on the left side deserves a chance to be that guy. His nine assists this season is third on the team.
The second reason is Avery is at his best when he's engaged in the game. Meaning when he's focused on hockey and not stirring up trouble he's a pretty good hockey player. The reason Avery doesn't get more ice time is because Torts, I believe, doesn't trust Sean will stay out of trouble and may get the ref's arm to go up. Not just because Avery may take a dumb penalty but also because he rarely gets the benefit of the doubt from the officials.
A centered, focused and engaged Sean Avery is better for the Rangers and for Sean. Once he's scoring and helping the team win then maybe the "under your skin" style can be even more effective.
You see, when teams ignore Sean he becomes a compromised player.
Remember 2007. Avery drove the Thrashers crazy in the first round of the playoffs. The Rangers swept Atlanta. The next round the Sabres didn't pay Avery any mind. Sean didn't score a point and was a minus-5. Buffalo won in 6.
If Avery can contribute he becomes an all-around player. Then you can have the best of both worlds, a pest that can score.
Maybe against a struggling Islanders team it starts tonight.