Unfortunately, any recap of Game 4 would not be complete without a discussion of the undisciplined penalties the Rangers continue to take. It helped to cost them a chance at winning the third game and it will cost them a chance to win Game 5 if they don’t heed their coach’s post-game warning.

“We are going to have to improve in a number of areas, starting with our discipline,” Tortorella told Andrew Gross of The (Bergen) Record.

While Mara did take a pair of bad penalties, the Rangers coach was directing his ire at Sean Avery who took two incredibly bad and inopportune penalties in the final 10 minutes of the game.

Avery is like the little girl with the curl. When he is good, he is good. When he is bad, he is bad.

As you might imagine, Avery was part of the post-game discussion.

“I don’t know if you have to hurt a guy, or what the criteria for a high stick is for the league to review it,” Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau related to Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post. “They’ll look at it. And if they deem it’s [worthy] of a suspension, they’ll give him one game. He plays hard. Sometimes he plays too hard.”

Boudreau pretty much summed up Avery’s career in that final sentence.

Tortorella was asked for his reaction to the Avery penalties, but the Rangers coach quickly cut of any discussion of the matter by saying it was something that would be handled in the locker room. One has to wonder if Tortorella even has to saying anything behind closed doors. I have a feeling that the Ranger veterans will be addressing the matter.

If you reviewed each of the penalties on their own merits, they are not grounds for a suspension. However, when you add the two of them together and then add in his minor and 10-minute misconduct at the end of Game, and then factor in it is Sean Avery, you can expect NHL Vice President Colin Campbell to sit him down for a game.

Fans can try and rationalize that Avery’s hot on Milan Jurcina was an accident, but the bottom line is Avery has to realize the position he is in. Like it or not, Avery and the Rangers have to realize that there is a target on his back and he will not be allowed to get away with things that other players do while other players will be able to take liberties against Avery without penalties being called.

“I think that was intentional,” Brian Pothier told Dan Rosen of nhl.com. “That’s Sean Avery and we know what to expect out of him.”

“I hope not, for his sake,” Pothier said in response to whether or not Avery’s high-stick on the Caps blue liner was intentional. “With four minutes left I think I give him a little more credit than that.”

It is very possible that the Rangers are not in the position they are in if Avery did not return to the team. However, he is back to skating that fine line of being a detriment to the team or a catalyst to victory.

“In the grand scheme of things, the Rangers seem to be a better team with Avery in their midst, ” Darren Eliot wrote on SI.com following Game 3. “His energy can be contagious and his antics distracting to the opposition. But in the short-term, sometimes his hockey energy is pure fourth-line talent and his antics a detriment to his team’s cause.”

If you think about it, you can add Eliot’s comment to pretty much any Rangers pre-game and post-game analysis.

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