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Rangers need smarter Avery

by Dan Rosen
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- If the New York Rangers are going to win this series against the Washington Capitals, Sean Avery can't be their "headline player," coach John Tortorella said Tuesday afternoon.

Avery was that player Monday night in Game 3 -- for the wrong reasons -- and the Rangers dropped a 4-0 decision and lost half their lead in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series. Game 4 is Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Referees Dave Jackson and Kelly Sutherland called Avery for five penalties totaling 18 minutes, including a 10-minute misconduct for throwing a punch at Capitals' goalie Simeon Varlamov and a two-minute roughing for sucker-punching Washington defenseman John Erskine.

Tortorella called the penalty on Erskine "dumb."

"I think Sean has done a pretty good job along the way here of trying to keep himself under control," Tortorella said. "It's just not letting anybody get inside of him and he can be an effective guy, and has been. Even (Monday) night he was an effective player for us, but he has to make sure he stays on the edge and doesn't cross it. At a time last night he did, but it's one too many times."

Tortorella has talked a lot about Avery being an effective player for the Rangers when he's not getting caught up in all the hoopla he causes by stirring things up in front of the net.

He stayed disciplined and was effective in Games 1 and 2, but lost his cool in Game 3. Tortorella said he and Avery discussed the matter Tuesday morning.

"It's a matter of discipline, and when I say the word discipline it's not just about penalties," Tortorella said. "It's about getting into a situation where he was in Erskine. He ends up taking a penalty, but he can't let that happen. It's about holding onto a puck, which he did really well last night. Those are the details and discipline of playoff hockey. It's part of a process and he'll learn by it. He's trying like (heck) against some situations where he really has to stay on top of himself and not get frustrated."

One Ranger who's most definitely frustrated right now is captain Chris Drury, who remains limited due to what is most likely a hand or a wrist injury, though no official word has been given by the team.

Drury skated only 1:34 in the third period Monday night and only 10:58 in the game. Drury was the Rangers' second-leading faceoff man during the regular season but did not take a single draw Monday night after taking only two in Game 2 on Saturday.

Both the captain and the coach are still using the term "day-to-day." Tortorella even said he was encouraged by the way Drury skated in practice Tuesday. Drury said "every day it feels better," and that he hopes he's not questionable for Game 4.

However, he did not skate on one of the new Rangers' lines during Tuesday's practice and instead filled in for the absent Paul Mara (family issue) as the sixth defenseman. Drury said the media shouldn't read that much into that, though.

"Obviously I'd like to be doing more and helping us win more," Drury said. "I have been fortunate in my career not to be watching too much, so yeah, it's definitely frustrating. The best I can say is just day-to-day. That's how I'm playing it and I think that's how (Tortorella) is playing it and we'll go from there."

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