Rangers Coach John Tortorella said Sean Avery will play tonight in Game 2 against the Caps, replacing Mats Zuccarello in the lineup.
Avery, a notorious pest, was a healthy scratch in Game 1, and played more than 10 minutes only twice in his last 15 appearances in the regular season.
But Avery has a knack for getting under his opponent’s skin, and Tortorella hopes the winger will shake things up after the Rangers played too passively at times during Game 1.
“I think at times, when Sean is consistent with his play, he can add some forechecking,” Tortorella said. “Sean’s going in tonight, so hopefully he’ll give us an opportunity to forecheck, stay disciplined and add some energy to our lineup.”
Avery has a history of agitating his opponents and opposing goalies, especially in the postseason.
His best-known petulant moment came in the 2008 playoffs, when Avery camped out in the crease and waved his hands and stick to distract Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, resulting in a Rangers goal during a 5-on-3 advantage.
Avery said this morning he did not watch Game 1 on Wednesday night, and he only said a few words before twice telling television cameramen to shut their cameras off.
“I’m ready to go,” Avery said.
Zuccarello played only 7:34 in Game 1, taking one shot and committing a boarding penalty in the first period.
Tortorella questioned whether the 5-foot-7, 174-pound Zuccarello had the size to last through the grind of a playoff series.
“I didn’t use him that much,” Tortorella said. “The reason why I put him in is he has a chance to make a play. I think he sees the ice very well. Whether he can handle the size and the overall consistency of playoff hockey, I’m not sure.”
*Tortorella said defenseman Matt Gilroy will remain in the Rangers’ lineup tonight, and Steve Eminger will again be a healthy scratch.
*The Rangers held a brief optional skate this morning at Verizon Center, and most of the team participated.
Defenseman Marc Staal was back on the ice after taking a day off from practice yesterday to rest.
Forwards Ruslan Fedotenko, Brandon Prust, Wojtek Wolski and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist were the healthy Rangers who opted not to skate.