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Monday, April 18, 2011
Rangers practice notebook: Days off, Sean Avery and cool/bad mustaches

By Matt Ehalt

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The Rangers and Capitals certainly won’t be able to complain about a grueling schedule. The teams get two days off between Games 3 and 4 as well as between Games 4 and 5. While they can’t do anything about it, the Rangers wish there wasn’t such a long break between games.

“I know if you’re asking me personally, I’d rather play, I’d rather play every other day,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said following Monday’s meetings. “TV kind of rules with that, doesn’t it? Nothing you can do about it.”

“I go with the flow,” left wing Ruslan Fedotenko said. “Day between [games], that’s great, but two days between, that’s good too. I’m not taking too much and thinking too much. It’s just regroup and be ready for the next game.”

Added right wing Marian Gaborik: “It is what it is, we can’t do anything about it. But I think it helps to give us one day to recover and then tomorrow we go back to work and have a good practice and play on Wednesday.”

AVERY BACK IN THE MIX: After being a healthy scratch in five of the Rangers' final 11 games, as well as the first game of the playoffs, Sean Avery has rebounded to give the Rangers quality minutes in the past two games. He’s logged 19:07 of ice time in the two games and has three shots on goal.

“He’s a good player, he’s a fast player, he can use his speed on the forecheck and physical play, so it’s always good and setting the tone for the rest of the team,” Fedotenko said. “It’s always good when the opposition has to look over his shoulder and hesitate to make his play and think about that big hit, and not playing the puck, that always gives us an advantage.”

Avery, while a fan favorite, couldn’t find time on the ice down the stretch. He was scratched in the season finale so rookie Mats Zuccarello could be used in case of a shootout. He again found himself on the bench with Zuccarello starting in the playoff opener, before being reinserted to add some forechecking for Game 2.

Tortorella credited Avery for his play in Game 3, a 3-2 Rangers win, saying he was consistent in getting in on the forecheck, getting to the net and finishing his checks. His performance was part of a great day for his line, which also included Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust.

“Sean’s biggest assets are his legs,” Tortorella said. “If he starts thinking, he hurts himself. He just needs to go play and use his legs and he’s a very effective player.’

IT’S A MUSTACHE-OFF: It’s not a team-wide movement -- yet -- but Boyle is intrigued to see if he and Brandon Dubinsky’s playoff mustaches will become a fad.

“We’ll see if we can get some more guys on board,” Boyle joked.

The mustaches were of course discussed Monday, and of course, joked about.

Boyle, who grew the mustache first and said he’s going for a Captain Morgan look, said he’s not going to keep his facial hair after the season.

“I’m not really going for style points with this thing, it’s more of a facial hair for the playoffs type thing,’" Boyle said. “My beard is pretty terrible.”

When asked to compare whose mustache was better, Boyle said that’s for others to decide, but said that Dubinsky’s gets the award for being the worst. “You can see it from a mile away,” Boyle quipped.

Gaborik had a different description for Dubinsky’s mustache: “It looks worse, but actually it’s kind of funny. Coolest I would say.”

A GREAT LINE: Even though the line of Avery-Boyle-Prust didn’t score a goal or record an assist, Tortorella applauded the trio for jumpstarting the Rangers early in the game.

“They certainly set the tone in the first period for us. They gave us some good shifts right on through,” Tortorella said. “Brian Boyle arguably has probably been one of our most consistent forwards through the first three games. He had two really good chances on the power play in front of the net and I thought that line gave us some good energy, they kept their discipline, and really in the first period where it was kind of not sure where it was going to go, both teams kind of like waiting, we certainly didn’t have that mindset, but they gave us some energy and I thought we really got involved after that.”

NO GOALS FOR GABORIK: The postseason hasn’t proven to be the galvanizing force for Gaborik, as he has now gone 12 straight games without a goal, which is his longest stretch of the season. While he’s taken 11 shots in the three games, he doesn’t have a point in any of the contests.

Despite the zero points, Gaborik’s confidence doesn’t seem to be shaken.

“I feel pretty good out there. I have to keep going with my legs and you can tell the goals that are scored are all around the net so just have to drive the net,” Gaborik said. “Much better in front of (Michal)  Neuvirth yesterday, being in the blue and in his face and that’s how you have to get goals.”

OTHER NEWS AND NOTES: Backup goalie Martin Biron said he has no timetable for his return from a fractured collarbone ... The Rangers talked about the increased pressure on Neuvirth and how the 35 shots led to their three goals ... Several players talked about the Rangers finally getting a bounce on the Dubinsky goal.