NEW YORK – While the battles are fierce and tempers can flare on the ice, the NHL’s players are a close-knit community.Another example of that is the Penguins’ concern for Rangers winger Sean Avery.
Avery, who was voted as the NHL’s dirtiest player in a recent poll and has been a thorn in the Penguins’ side during their Eastern Conference Semifinal series, suffered a lacerated spleen in Game 3 Tuesday night. He will not return to play in the postseason.
“I’m not quite sure what is going on, but all the best for him,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said once news broke Wednesday on Avery’s injury. “He is an important part of that hockey team. We hope the best for him.”
“It’s always sad to hear something like that,” Marc-Andre Fleury said. “Even though he’s a guy you don’t always like on the ice, he’s still a hockey player and it’s tough to hear that news.”
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby echoed those statements.
“You never like to see anyone injured or have their health affected, so hopefully everything is OK there. You never want to see that happen to anyone. Things always happen on the ice; it’s emotional and intense and I don’t think guys are always the best of friends on the ice, but you never like to see anyone’s health in jeopardy. I think we all wish him the best,” he said. “He’s a guy who brings a lot of emotion to their team. I think we’re a good example of when we lost guys, other guys stepped up when they got the opportunity. I think we’re a prime example and we have to learn from our own team and realize they have guys who will try to do the same thing. When you lose guys, sometimes you push that much more to be better. I don’t think it’s anything we’ll take for granted.”
WINNING STREAK ON THE LINE
The Penguins have won their first seven playoff games this season. They can push that to eight Thursday night with a win in New York. However, the Penguins care more about closing out the series rather than any sort of streak.
“I don’t think that really matters. We’re looking to the next one now,” Crosby said. “We’ve done a good job of erasing things and just looking to the next one. That’s what we have to do here. I think the best way to look at it is to realize how hard you work each game in the playoffs. To overlook things or to look too far ahead would undermine that.”
NO RANGER DANGER HERE
Much was reported on the Penguins’ struggles at Madison Square Garden, but not many pointed out the Penguins have owned the Rangers in the playoffs. Pittsburgh is 3-0 all-time in playoff series against the Rangers and has a 15-3 postseason record against them.
“This is the spot we wanted to be in,” Fleury said. “The fourth one is always the toughest to get. We need to be focused.”