The Rangers and Devils found themselves in a similar scenario on Saturday night, the Rangers winning the game in overtime, 5-4. While most are watching the prospects mixed in with the veterans, the return of Sean Avery against the Devils made for an interesting show.
Did He or Didn’t He?
Avery has a way of getting under David Clarkson’s skin. He’s even better at getting under Ilya Kovalchuk’s skin. Early in the second period, Clarkson and Avery tried to drop the gloves, but the officials tried to stop it before it even started. But that didn’t stop Avery from jabbering off to Kovalchuk while Clarkson was being toted away.
Kovalchuk went after Avery and Clarkson came running in. Whatever Avery said to Kovalchuk really got under his skin as Kovy started pummeling throws onto Avery, even after he had gone down to the ice. Don’t think that Kovalchuk didn’t try to pick Avery back up off of the ice to finish what he started.
Avery received a double minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct in the altercation. Kovalchuk only received two minutes for roughing. Why the misconduct?
“[Referee Paul Devorksi] specifically told me I got it because [Kovalchuk] is a superstar, and I can’t go after a superstar,” Avery told NY Post’s Larry Brooks. “I told him I make $4 million. I’m a superstar, too.”
But that was just the beginning of the problems between Kovalchuk and Avery. Kovalchuk was still brewing in the third period and decided he was still going to have a few more words with Avery from the bench.
What happened on the bench an be viewed in either two ways. Either Kovalchuk was telling Avery to ‘zip it,’ or he was making the throat slash motion. If he were making the throat slash motion, it would not have been wise. Nick Boynton (Chicago Blackhawks) was recently suspended by the NHL for making a throat slash motion to another player.
But luckily for Kovalchuk, Avery and Rangers coach John Tortorella both said that it was a ‘zip it’ motion.
“[It was] just a ‘zip your mouth,’ no slash, none of that,” Tortorella told the press.
“I just told him to zip it,” Kovalchuk told the media after the game. “I didn’t tell him I will kill him, so don’t suspend me.”
Avery’s Job On The Line?
There has been speculation that Avery’s job is on the line. With the recent invitation to tryout with the team, Ruslan Fedotenko could be vying for Avery’s spot.
Fedotenko has done well so far this preseason. He is amongst the few that are leading the club in points so far this preseason. Avery, on the other hand, may not have the points to his name, but he has helped the Rangers win the game. From effectively screening Johan Hedberg (Devils goaltender) which led to two Rangers goals, to drawing penalties to put the Rangers on the power play that led to goals, those effective moves proved that Avery, no matter how much the other 29 teams in the league hate his job, is deserving of his spot as a New York Ranger.
People may not like his kind of hockey (including coach Tortorella), but it works for the team. You have to give credit where credit is due. He put the Rangers in a position to win the game multiple times throughout the night.
Rangers Superb on Power Play
The Rangers got three of their four goals on the power play. This power play force can be viewed two ways: either the Devils need to work on their penalty kill, or the Rangers have one killer power play unit. Oddly enough, the Rangers have yet to work on their power play this preseason.
“We haven’t even worked on it at all,” Rangers defenseman Matt Gilroy said. “The first period, there was one that was pretty ugly, and I was like, ‘oh, boy.'”
If the Rangers keep this up, they may end up being the number one power play unit of the league.
Devils Trade Rumors
Tom Gulitti reported last night that the Colorado Avalanche are interested in acquiring Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner.
Another rumor circulating is the possible trade of Clarkson. While Clarkson, as well as many others on the team are up on the trade block right now, a Clarkson trade does not make sense for the Devils.
With his youth, proven capability of being an effective goal scorer, as well as an agitator when needed, he would be a serious loss to the Devils if traded. While he would make for an honorable trade (what team would not want him?), the Devils could suffer the most by losing an effective player such as Clarkson.
To choose Dainius Zubrus over Clarkson, may end up being the faulty decision in the end. Zubrus, who is just as effective as Clarkson, is older and closer to retirement than Clarkson.
With Clarkson, he has another ten years (barring injury, while Zubrus could have anywhere between three to five more years before he starts to wear down to retirement. During those three to five years, Clarkson is still too young to start the real wear and tear.
Zubrus’ contract has a salary cap hit of $3.4 million over the next three seasons. While over the same amount of time, Clarkson has a cap hit of $2.67 million.
“There’s nothing I can do about it,” Clarkson told the media about the possible trade. “I was glad to re-sign here this summer and I love playing for the Devils. They’ve always been good to me, but it could be anybody. The team has a decision and Mr. Lamoriello has to think hard and it’s not going to be easy for him, but all I can do is my job and just go out there and play and work hard off the ice and that’s it.
“I don’t lose sleep over it. I don’t not sleep at night. Like I said, I’ve loved playing here, but I know things happen and I’ve just got to play my game…there’s nothing I can do about it. I can’t sit at home and think about it. It’s come up a couple of times, but I really have no idea what’s going to happen.”
With the choices of who to go and who to stay, it is an extremely difficult decision to make. It could mean burying players in the minors or placing great players on waivers. For some, it could be the end of their career. For others, it could be an opportunity with a new club.
The Devils are currently $3 million over the salary cap. If the Langenbrunner trade does happen, it knocks off only $2.8 million from the cap, but it’s still not enough. Someone else would still have to go.
But at the same time, do the Devils really want to lose their captain? Or is there someone else on the Devils that is vying for that captaincy? Either way, Lou Lamoriello needs to build his Stanley Cup team. He just has to make a few finishing touches.
Wade Redden on Waivers
On Saturday, news broke that Wade Redden was placed on waivers. His $6.5 million cap hit was erased from the Rangers books. While Redden is still of NHL-caliber, he is definitely not worth the $6.5 million.
Rangers General Manager Glen Sather informed Redden that he had to have a strong camp or this would happen. Being as he did not have a strong camp, he was waived.
The Rangers are in Detroit for their third preseason game. Game time is at 5:00 p.m.
The Devils next preseason game is on Tuesday when they host the Philadelphia Flyers.