Originally written on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 12/3/11

NEW YORK - MARCH 30: Sean Avery #16 of the New York Rangers celebrates assisting team mate Ryan Callahan's goal against the New Jersey Devils during their game on March 30, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

It's been eleven games since the New York Rangers recalled forward Sean Avery from the Connecticut Whale of the AHL after he was assigned there during training camp. In those eleven games, Avery has slowly but surely worked his way into earning a roster spot on this team. As expected, he was handed the bare minimum of responsibility from the coach early on, but that's changed over the past five or six games. Now he is establishing himself a role on this team. 

As we know, Avery has his own ways of making himself an effective player out on the ice. His number one tactic is goading players into penalties, which he's done very well this season. Aside from that, he is also a very hard worker. You never see Sean coasting or skating in a lackadaisical manner. He always has the wheels turning and often is one of the first Rangers in on the forecheck. Plus, he's fought some big fights this year as well; fights that actually had meaning to them. Torts has to give him ice time with an effort like that. 

And then comes the production on offense. Avery has three goals so far this season, and each one was the product of a pretty play. His first, which came against Carolina, was scored on a self-produced breakaway that he finished by roofing a shot over Cam Ward. His second, on Long Island, came when he recovered his own rebound in the slot and sniped past Evgeny Nabakov. And most recently, on Thursday against Carolina, Avery received a pass from Marian Gaborik in the slot, and sent a perfect shot to the back of the net, which turned out to be the game-winner. 

Avery is not just a chicken without a head running around aimlessly like many like to think. He has a purpose, and in his first eleven games he's served that purpose very well. All you have to do is look at his ice time over the past five games. At first, he started by only getting four to five minutes per game, but now he is seeing between seven and eight; about 11 to 12 shifts. Not bad for the fourth line. 

And that's another thing. Avery has helped to make the Rangers' fourth line actually worth putting out onto the ice. Lately he's been playing with Brandon Dubinsky and Brandon Prust, and those three have fed off each other well and have been important defensively for the Blueshirts. I think their best game came against Carolina the other night, so as a result Tortorella gave them additional ice time in the final minutes.

Speaking of Dubinsky, it seems like Avery is becoming the more important player, doesn't it? Sure, Dubi has been great defensively, but other than that he is having a very quiet season. That's an interesting storyline to follow, especially with the recent trade rumors floating around. 

 

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