Just kidding. I had been having some login issues the past few days Steve. Sorry. Also had been completing an in depth baseball preview filled with predictions over at Hitting Back. To view it, either go below our last More HB entry or click on the Articles section. It's three parts long breaking down both circuits and making our World Series pick as well as award prognostications.
Our last entry coincidentally enough covered a wide range of sports topics over the weekend including the Rangers' latest victory along with up to date playoff race and remaining schedules for sixth New York, seventh Tampa, eighth Montreal and the teams chasing them.
So what are my thoughts on what the Rangers did last night to put themselves one win away from a second consecutive playoff season? I'll sum it up quickly:
I'm extremely pleased with what I saw Sunday as opposed to the lackadaisical uneven performance they had in a 6-4 win the previous night in The City of Brotherly Love. Tom Renney's club came better prepared for a Leafs' squad which was playing their fourth game in six nights. They also got a monster performance from pest Sean Avery- who finished with a Gordie Howe hat trick and dominated in the club's 7-2 rout which gave it more distance from ninth Toronto and in good position.
Avery finished with two goals, an assist and an entertaining scrap with the opposite No.16 Darcy Tucker. The former King best known for his mouth and hot Hollywood girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert has been nothing short of sensational since coming over to Broadway. Playing the agitating grinding style, the undersized Avery has proven he is more than just the league's most hated player. He's an effective player who has changed the dynamic on what was a soft Ranger club and helped pave the way for this run they've been on for the past month.
As brilliant as Henrik Lundqvist has been and as resurgent as team captain Jaromir Jagr has since being severely criticized for sitting out a shootout loss to the Devils, without Avery, there are no postseason aspirations. He has been that good. Remember when many scoffed at his acquisition? Not anymore. Here's what No.68 had to say after scoring for the third time in two games about the feisty winger:
"I thought the whole team played good, but he was just unbelievable. I think he was the biggest factor in our season lately. Once he came here, he changed everything. We got a great player who can score goals, play rough, play tough. He's tough to play against."
About as accurate an assessment of Mr. Avery since he came over from LA back on February 5th for a package of Jason Ward (now playing well for Tampa), prospects Marc-Andre Cliche and Jan Marek.
So the stage is set Tuesday. A Ranger win at bitter rival Long Island and they're in. But not only that. They can eliminate the Islanders from the playoffs altogether. It will be something to watch.
And now for a parting shot at the Swamp fans who booed Zdeno Chara yesterday. Scrums are a part of the game. The Devils are very good at dishing it out. But whenever their goalie faces the same stuff, their players come to the aid of Martin Brodeur roughing up opponents the same way Chara did to Jamie Langenbrunner. That's part of the game. Good for Chara. At least he was exhibiting some passion for what's been a dreadful year for his new team. If more Bruins displayed that kind of intensity, maybe the Original Six club wouldn't be a laughingstock.