Every day from Monday to Saturday, The Ice Sheet will take a look at the biggest stories in the league that happened on the ice and elsewhere the night before.
I'll admit something, here.
I'm a Sean Avery fan. I'm not a Rangers fan. Just Sean Avery.
Yes, Sean Avery is a pest and an agitator. He also has a rule (unofficially) named after him now. And Martin Brodeur hates his guts.
This isn't the first personal rivalry in the history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I'm guessing that most of the 1996 Red Wings weren't fans of Claude Lemieux. Even though they had a more legitimate reason to hate Lemieux (see: "Draper, Kris"), the Wings lined up at the end of the series and shook Lemieux's hand.
(Note: Dino Ciccarelli is still mad about doing it.)
What does this have to do with Sean Avery and Martin Brodeur? Well, the Rangers eliminated Marty and the New Jersey Devils last night, winning 5-3 to take the series in five games. As we all know, the tradition is for the teams to line up for a handshake after the end of a series.
Clearly, there were some Devil players who were less than pleased to be shaking hands with Sean Avery. Maybe they were just mad because he wouldn't engage in trash talk through the media, or that he's not pestering opponents on their behalf. But they all did it, just like every player in the league. It's tradition, and you don't buck that because of personal reasons.
(Still to come: The Ducks try to stay alive, Detroit dominates Nashville everywhere but on the scoreboard, Saturday's schedule, and something random from the wonderful world of YouTube)
The YouTube evidence:
I'm sure there are some Devil fans out there who will blame Avery for this. That's fine. It's part of what makes America great. We all have the right to be loyal to our teams, and a loyal Devils fan may be inclined to forget Brodeur's involvement.
However, it's obvious to me that Brodeur is the one making no effort to shake hands. Avery could have gone out of his way to try to grab Brodeur's hand, but it wouldn't have done any good. Brodeur would have felt the contact from Avery and flailed his arms while falling dramatically to the ice.
It's not a rule. Brodeur didn't do anything to warrant a fine or suspension. However, the end-of-series handshake is tradition. Frankly, I don't think Avery's chirping or style of play are anything remotely resembling a sufficient reason to screw with that tradition.
If you don't like the guy, just wash your hands when you're done, and move on with your life. You're better off doing that than you are letting Sean Avery make you look like a donkey.
Ducks still alive. Two outta three ain't bad, and that was Anaheim's performance on the power play Friday at the Honda Center. The Ducks cruised past Dallas 5-2, riding their power play and the oversized pads of J.S. Giguere, who made 40 saves. Dallas can clinch the series Sunday at home, but the door is now open for the Ducks, who were awful in the series' first two games.
If Dallas wants to avoid a Game Seven, they're going to have to match Anaheim's intensity. The Stars' skill players are playing at a high level, and they probably have an advantage in that department. However, the Ducks' physical play can't be ignored if you are to be successful against them. Dallas has done that in this series, but failed to take advantage of the Ducks' undisciplined penalties Friday night. The Stars have some pressure on them now as this series heads back to Texas.
Wings work overtime. To win Game Five Friday night, the Red Wings had to overcome the best player in the ice. They did, but it took overtime.
Dan Ellis stopped nearly everything that was thrown at him Friday. The Predators goaltender made 52 saves, as Nashville was outshot 54-21. Unfortunately for Nashville, they had no luck getting anything past Wings netminder Chris Osgood until the final minute of regulation. Johan Franzen's breakaway goal in overtime gave Detroit a 2-1 win and a 3-2 series lead.
Nashville played without captain Jason Arnott (allegedly ill, but probably injured after a post-goal dogpile in Game Three) and forward David Legwand. The Predators head home for Game Six Sunday afternoon, and they are now facing elimination. There is no word yet if Arnott and Legwand will be available for Nashville in that must-win game.
Saturday's schedule. Three more teams face elimination Saturday, including Minnesota. A little birdie tells us that Wild defenseman Nick Schultz made the trip to Denver for Game Six. Schultz (appendectomy) hasn't played in this series, and the odds are long that he'll play Saturday night. It is somewhat curious, however, that he made the trip.
Here is the slate. All times Eastern.
Philadelphia at Washington, 1pm (NBC) - Philadelphia leads series 3-1
Montreal at Boston, 7pm (Versus) - Montreal leads series 3-2
Minnesota at Colorado, 10pm (Versus) - Colorado leads series 3-2
Random YouTube Embed. I think everyone who saw or attended this game remembers the hit by Scott Stevens.
Well, except poor Eric Lindros.