With the New York Rangers falling in the standings by the day, and coming off a terrible two game road trip, they needed this game more then any other they played this season. You might even say that this was their first “playoff” game of the season. It was an exciting, back and forth, fast paced and intense game and the Rangers were able to come out on top by a final score of 3-0.
In the first period the Rangers would start strong, putting twenty shots on net to the Devils’ ten. The Rangers buzzed around the ice controlling play for virtually the entire period. They dominated so much and kept the Devils from any serious scoring chances, but still there was no score on the board.
Finally in the second period the Blueshirts would strike as Brandon Dubinsky scored his eleventh goal of the season off a rebound of a Dan Giardi wrist shot. From there on out the game was the Rangers’ to lose. Dan Girardi would score just two minutes later and then Ryan Callahan ten minutes after that. The Rangers held a commanding 3-0 lead after two, but the Devils were starting to get some pressure going and finished the period strong.
The team from New Jersey kept up that pressure by getting plenty of shots to the net of Henrik Lundqvist (who is now 14-3-2 lifetime against Martin Brodeur) but he stoned them all and the Rangers were able to survive the barrage. There would be no more goal scoring and the Rangers were victorious, despite being outshot 38-37.
Now to the most talked about part of the game, and that was the incident between David Clarkson and Sean Avery midway through the third period. Avery pretty much stayed away from Brodeur the entire night but was still a pest to the other players on the Devils. When Clarkson confronted Avery and dropped his gloves, Avery only dropped one but didn’t let go of his stick. He did not want to fight. As Clarkson held on to him, shoving him around, tempting him, Avery just stared at the referee who was close by, as if to say “I’m not going to fight him.” And so he didn’t. Even after Clarkson’s bush-league moves of slamming him down to the ice twice, the agitator would not throw a punch. Clarkson would receive a double minor for roughing and a ten minute misconduct, while Avery just got two minutes for roughing, a call that is questionable.
Devils fans are looking at the incident as a way of showing how tough Clarkson is and how much of a wimp Avery is because he wouldn’t fight him. But in fact, I believe that what Avery did last night was the smartest thing he has ever done as a Rangers, and something that has won him back my complete respect as a player. Ever since Avery came back to the Rangers he has repeatedly been attacked, mauled and jumped by his opponents, without them ever getting a penalty call. From being slashed to checked from behind (in front the of the referees) he would never get a call. It has been open season on Avery. Now Clarkson does the same thing and jumps Avery and slams him to the ice. He knows that everyone in the hockey world can now see it clearly, that the referees, the fans and commissioner are all watching him get attacked and he is not fighting back. That itself forced the referees to remove Clarkson from the game and finally give a call his way.
And that wasn’t it for the Devils against Avery. For the rest of the period, they continued to chase after him and Mike Rupp even tackled him with under a minute to go. You may hate Sean Avery, but if your team is trailing 3-0 in the third period of a very important game and you are more worried about killing him instead of trying to score goals, that means he has done his job, and done it perfectly.