WASHINGTON -- Sean Avery has officially become a spare part.
Even facing a big Washington team and with Avery's ability to irritate and 24 postseason games under his belt, the left wing was a healthy scratch for Game 1 last night in favor of Mats Zuccarello, the diminutive forward who is more skilled than Avery but has no playoff experience.
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Avery, 31, has been scratched in seven of the last 14, and was benched during the loss to the Thrashers on April 7 when he failed to clear the zone and his error led to an Atlanta goal.
He might still be used to spark the team if the Rangers fall behind in the series, but coach John Tortorella has said nothing positive about him for weeks, simply calling his play "inconsistent." He has no goals in the last nine games that he has played, and one in the last 33.
In 2009, when he was claimed off waivers from Dallas, Avery scored five goals and added seven assists in 18 games and scored two goals in the opening- round series against the Caps. But he was scratched for Game 5 after two turnovers led to Capitals goals in Game 4. He returned in Game 6 and played well, but the Rangers lost, 5-3.
Torts bottles up
In Game 6 in 2009, Jim Schoenfeld was the coach, replacing Tortorella, who was suspended for tossing a water bottle at a fan.
Asked about the suspension Wednesday, Tortorella said: "I'm not going back there. I'm just so focused on the game today. I'm not gonna worry about that. I knew somewhere along the way that question was going to come up, so we'll just put an end to it. There's no sense to it."