Welcome back, Sean Avery. We missed you. Luckily, you didn't miss Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas's helmet with your stick with 5:24 left in the third period of the New York Rangers' game in Boston this afternoon. Even if it was, as is the defense from the Rangers' locker room, an "accident."
From NESN's coverage:
Was it an accident? Another case of Sean Avery: Victim of Circumstance? Another chapter in the "poor, misunderstood, well-dressed me against the world" book Avery's been writing for the last two seasons in the NHL?
The Boston Globe's Bruins Blog had the postgame analysis from both goalies:
Thomas responded by chasing down Avery and delivering a shot to his back, then getting his blocker in the face of Fredrik Sjostrom, who had come to the defense of his teammate.
"It's an unwritten rule that nothing happens during the TV timeout," said Thomas, who was stretching when Avery pulled his hit-and-run stunt. "I'm stretching there, Avery comes by, and I get hit in the head with a stick. You look up and see who it is. You've got to be kidding me. It was just reflex. The battling during the game? I have no problem with that. I actually like the way he plays around the net. He's tenacious. He gets in right around the crease but he's not doing anything illegal. I have no problem with that. But there are lines that you can't cross. He seems to have a hard time figuring out where those lines are."
In the other room, Henrik Lundqvist said that Avery's whack on Thomas was probably an accident.
Accident or not, Avery and Thomas earned two minutes for roughing late in the game for this nonsense, although Rangers Pundit thinks the refs called the penalty on Avery off the big screen. Andrew Gross agrees, but said that Avery's antics were straight out of "Slap Shot."
Thomas earned a shutout, making 31 saves for the 1-0 win. Perhaps most important of all, the Rangers earned a little more anxiety, as their overall probability for making the playoffs (barring other results this evening) dipped to 54 percent.
But hey: The Rangers knew what they were paying for by bringing Avery back, right? Thanks to Nathan and Curl for the tips.