Sharks look for sixth straight win against Avery-less (but not for long) Rangers

 

On October 4th, the New York Rangers put Sean Avery on waivers with the intention of sending him down to the Connecticut Whale of the AHL. Avery, who had worn out his welcome with Rangers' head disciplinarian.. er... head coach John Tortarella, looked as if he would be never be lacing his skates again under the glowing spotlight he seemed to crave.

Never, as it turns out, is about twenty-something days.

Don't tell that to Wade Redden, whose "never" looks like it will last the expected amount of time as he (and his Big Apple-sized cap hit) looks doomed to spend the rest of his professional playing days with the Whale. Avery though, after that twenty-something day AHL sentence, is headed back to New York City.

Avery, who has become more of a annoyance than an asset, is getting a second chance due to the Rangers' slow start. It doesn't really doesn't affect San Jose too much, as they'll be missing Avery's triumphant return to a team that doesn't really want him back by two days. If he clears waivers, Avery will be eligible to return to action on Thursday.

Even though he won't play against San Jose, the fact that he's coming back is story enough when it comes to this Halloween night tilt, and New York's season as a whole.

Why, after such public break-up, is Avery being called back to an organization that cut ties with him so severely? Well, the fans have clamored for his return, "Avery, Avery, Avery" chants have rung through the rafters of Madison Square Garden, but something tells me it's not because they miss his fashionista look. More likely, it's the Rangers' 3-3-3 record. 

While that may not look too terrible, the Rangers have earned points in six of nine games, they're still 3-6 when you look at the record from a pure win-loss standpoint. That kind of performance won't go unnoticed in most cities, even San Jose fans were contemplating a cyanide milkshake after the team started 1-3. A city like New York, where a newborn's fuse is cut short before the doctor attends to the umbilical cord, is about to explode when it comes to their Rangers. 

Will Avery fix that? It's unlikely. The Rangers have bigger problems than their third/fourth line (where Avery would likely hang). All-world defenseman Marc Staal remains out with a serious concussion (though rumor has it he could return soon), and the defense as a whole has been banged up. Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Biron have held the fort and kept the goals against low without Staal and Co., but the Rangers are still having trouble winning games.

Probably because they're 24th in the league in goals per game (2.2) and 20th in power play conversion percentage (14.7%). New addition Brad Richards and star winger Marian Gaborik have pulled their weight with eight points each, but other expected sources of offense like Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky and Derek Stepan have just eight points between the three of them.

If the Avery call-up tells you anything, it's that the Rangers are willing to try just about anything to get their team going again. They'll play San Jose hard, and they'll look to make a statement. 

The Sharks, though, have showed that they won't roll over for anyone. An undefeated road trip would be a huge confidence boost for San Jose, a team where the fans' expectations match (if not exceed) those of the Rangers. It will be a fitting finale to a solid trip, regardless of the outcome.

Prediction: Sharks win 4-1. On Halloween night, Jamie McGinn goes dressed up as a goal scorer and scores two, while Joe Pavelski goes as himself, scores two, saves a baby trapped in a well and trains a giraffe to perform open-heart surgery.

 

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4:00 PST

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6-3-0, 12 points

 

3-3-3, 9 points

5th in Western Conference

 

11th in Eastern Conference

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