Sean Avery is back with the Rangers. That much is known.
What is unknown is when he will play.
“Same lineup,” John Tortorella announced following Rangers practice yesterday. The Rangers host Anaheim at the Garden tonight.
“I thought [the] biggest strength [of Monday’s 5-2 win] was everybody contributed. We did the things we needed to do to start [to] be more consistent [and play] the right way.”
Tortorella said after Monday night’s win that he was leaning toward keeping the same lineup on the ice. Avery was aware of the situation even before Tortorella’s pronouncement.
“I spoke to the coaches [and] I didn’t skate because of re-entry waivers for a couple days and, you know what, the guy played pretty good the last game so I wouldn’t change the lineup,” Avery said.
He had been demoted to AHL Connecticut prior to the start of the season, but did clear re-entry waivers Tuesday afternoon.
Before Monday night’s game, Tortorella explained the rationale for the call-up was due to Mike Rupp’s knee injury. There is no timetable for Rupp’s return, although Tortorella said the organization expects to receive additional information before the end of the week.
So until further notice, Avery is a Ranger. He skated with Artem Anisimov and Andre Deveaux yesterday.
“Practice was good,” Avery said to the throng of reporters that circled his locker. “Happy to have a good practice and get some work in.”
One of the league’s most controversial players, Avery has totaled 87 goals, 157 assists, 244 points and 1,512 penalty minutes in his 565 game NHL career with Detroit, Los Angeles, the New York Rangers and Dallas. In his two tenures with the Rangers, Avery has played in 249 games and recorded 42 goals, 78 assists 120 points and 580 penalty minutes.
“Play hard, play as fast as I can,” Avery said when asked what he brings to the Rangers. “My game is pretty explanatory as far as what it is, where it comes from, how it happens.”
Avery only played in two games for the Northeast Division-leading Whale. He scored a goal and had a shootout-winning goal, to go along with seven penalty minutes in Connecticut’s wins over Adirondack and Worcester.
“Most NHL players are better than [AHL players] just from a fundamental standpoint — how hard they pass, how they skate so it gives you a bit confidence,” Avery said of the AHL. “Definitely a confidence builder for sure. It wasn’t bad. Played a couple games.
“Lot of babies on the way,” he added before joking, “not mine.”
When the initial decision to send Avery to Connecticut was made during the Rangers’ European trip in October, Tortorella said the team had “better players than Sean Avery.” When asked if he thought he needed to explain his comments to Avery, Tortorella simply said “no.”
Avery wouldn’t bite when asked if he and Tortorella need to talk about the coach’s commentary of the left wing.
“A lot of things happened to me over my career. All I can do is work hard and stay positive. I’ve learned that goes on,” Avery said. “There’s a level of expectation here. That’s what you sign up for. Play responsible. That goes for everybody.
“Come to work, work hard. Not going to read anything into the situation.”
Follow NHL writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman for news on the Rangers, Islanders and Devils.