This is why Sean Avery is the best pest in the NHL. He’s doesn’t go around trying to injure people, like Matt Cooke. His sole purpose isn’t to goon around, like Trevor Gillies or Derek Boogaard. And yet, there is no player in the NHL hated more than Sean Avery, and this is exactly why. The Rangers just iced the puck and the players are at the end of a long shift but are required to stay on. So what does Avery do? He pushes his stick into the ice so hard that it breaks, falls face first onto the ice, and then casually skates over to the bench and takes his time getting a new stick so that the 5 Rangers on the ice get an extra 30 seconds to catch their breath. It’s stuff like this, or the stick flailing against Brodeur, that makes people hate Sean Avery. He knows what he was doing. The Capitals knew what he was doing. Everyone watching the game knew what he was doing. And the refs knew what he was doing. Yet what could anyone do about it? It’s sort of like the movie Ferris Bueller, where Principal Rooney knew exactly what Ferris Bueller was doing, only he couldn’t really prove it or do anything about it. If Pavel Datsyuk or Shane Doan does this then everyone talks about what a “veteran move” it is and how it’s just another reason they’re great leaders. But Sean Avery does it, and everyone wants to punch him in the face because of it.
We saw the 2008 version of Sean Avery today for sure. There was the stick-breaking of course, but even aside from that he was just playing a lot better than he did for most of the season. He was skating hard and forechecking. He was getting near Neuvirth and forcing four Capitals to surround him. Maybe he wasn’t completely throwing the Capitals off their game like he did against the Devils in 2008 or Thrashers in 2007, but he was creating enough havoc to make a difference.