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LHinks: Playoffs and Island updates

Sean Avery tried not once, but twice, to give the game back to the Capitals last night by doing the stupid things Avery does. Each late third-period penalty was a failed attempt at the agitation that Avery "does best." Each also featured his disgraceful back-of-the-classroom histrionics where he pretends to be oblivious and innocent regarding what just took place before our very eyes.

As if to out-Avery himself, when he came out of the penalty box after the second one, he skated by an exhausted Alexander Semin's stick -- Semin on one knee after another futile power play -- and promptly tumbled to the ground, playing up what little if any contact was made to draw a tripping penalty.

Avery's lucky he didn't get a diving call on the play, an infraction he's all too familiar with from his days when the league would fine him for repeated offenses (and he, predictably, whined).

John Tortorella is a great coach, who I'm afraid will do great things for the Rangers. He doesn't need a boom-bust liability like Avery to do those things. After watching his first playoff under Torts, I'll be stunned if Avery plays out his contract there. Coaches like to control variables, and Avery is a wildly uncertain variable.

(In case I haven't made myself clear about the player I claim to not want to talk about: Nothing I enjoy about hockey overlaps with players like Sean Avery. He is a troubled adolescent in millionaire's clothes. Full stop.)

On the other hand, it pains me to admit it -- and may I never say it again, so help me god -- but the Garden atmosphere was terrific and Henrik Lundqvist was phenomenal last night. Damn it. You know, partisan fans naturally tout their own, as Vancouver fans do with Roberto Luongo (who just played a major part in a sweep of St. Louis, where the series was not close but each game was). But obviously Washington's offense poses a far greater test than does St. Louis, and Lundqvist in this round has performed worthy of the hype. {vomits}

It sucks. My picks from both heart and head are predictably trashed. Washington, down 3-1, looks done for what Japers' Rink called "the team's inability (or unwillingness) to adapt their play to stay competitive on the Rangers." To overcome that deficit, they'll need to accomplish what only 20 other teams have done before -- not impossible, but very difficult against a goalie as hot as Lundqvist. It's funny: Since the conference playoff format in 1994, the #2 seed has gone only 14-14 against the #7 seed. If the Caps don't pull this out, that odd .500 record for #2's will continue.

Aww, hell, surely there's brighter news somewhere...

NHL Playoffs Blog Coverage, Schedule and Scores - SB Nation

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