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Avery expects to be ready for opener

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

Tortorella Post-Practice Remarks on Wednesday Watch

By Jim Cerny,

Two days after a collision with teammate Ryan Callahan during practice sent him to the team doctor, and only one day after being seen walking around the MSG Training Center with a brace on his knee, Rangers winger Sean Avery was in good spirits on Wednesday and hopeful that he’d be ready to play in the season opener against Pittsburgh on Oct. 2.

“I was a little nervous when I went for the MRI, but it came back clean,” said Avery. “Hopefully this is just getting my injury out of the way right now so that it doesn’t happen during the season.”

Only 48 hours after suffering a minor knee injury in practice, Sean Avery was out of a brace and looking ahead to playing in the season-opener vs. the Pens.
Only 48 hours after the scary knee-to-knee collision with Callahan during drills on Monday, Avery already had discarded the knee brace and was able to partake in an upper-body workout “to get a sweat on” Wednesday morning.

Avery, who joked that he’s “always been a pretty good healer” called the injury a “little twist of the knee”. He also indicated that his goal was to be able to be in the lineup when the Rangers skate against the Penguins to open up the 2009-10 campaign in less than 10 days.

And make no mistake about it, Avery is extremely excited for the new season to get underway. He was among the most fit Rangers who reported to John Tortorella’s training camp nearly two weeks ago, and he has exuded the requisite hunger from Day One that the head coach loves to see from his players.

“I came into camp pretty focused, and I am still focused (despite the injury),” said Avery, who recorded five goals and 12 points in 18 games after the Blueshirts claimed him off re-entry waivers from the Dallas Stars last season. “This is just a little setback, and it’s not going to be anything major. It’s not going to hurt me as far as being focused or trying to help the team get ready for the season.”

Avery has been impressed with how the team has jelled so far in training camp. And he really likes how the off-season additions, including Marian Gaborik, Ales Kotalik, Christopher Higgins, Enver Lisin, and Donald Brashear among others, have fit in so quickly, both on and off the ice.

“I think it’s exciting to see how everyone has kind of adapted to how we are going to play,” said Avery. “I think the lineup is a reflection of that. I think we’ve got a lot of guys that can skate. And even more so, it seems like the guys are all kind of excited about being together.”

The youngsters -- Matt Gilroy, Michael Del Zotto, Artem Anisimov, and Evgeny Grachev among others -- have also caught Avery’s eye.

“I think the young guys have really played well and pushed the envelope on the older guys,” said Avery, who is entering his eighth season in the NHL. “That’s always a good thing in camp to make things more competitive.”

There is no question that Tortorella’s first camp with the Rangers has been a very competitive one. And even with Avery -- one of the club’s mainstays up front -- sidelined, Tortorella has continued to build the base of this team in preparation for the upcoming season.

“It’s our job right now at this time of camp just to get the foundation of our team concept,” said Tortorella after Wednesday’s 90-minute practice. “This is an important time, at least for the coaches, in trying to get our message across to them as far as our team concept, our foundation.”

Tortorella will be able to gauge how the players have absorbed what they have been taught so far when the Rangers return to preseason action on Thursday night with a tilt against the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden.

Following Thursday’s contest, the Rangers have one more preseason game scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Washington against the very same Caps before wrapping up training camp next week.
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