Sean Avery, Playoff Weasel

Keep that act off Broadway

Like that freaky clown at the circus, Sean Avery is an entertainer.

And like a clown, Avery's act wears thin quickly, and soon enough you realize all you really want to do is punch him in the mouth and make him go away.

Avery, the New York Rangers' super-pest, made a mockery of playoff hockey last season with his shenanigans in front of the New Jersey Devils' net. Sure, Avery's annoying stick-waving in the face of goalie Martin Brodeur probably helped the Rangers win the series, but it also set the theory of evolution back a few centuries in the process.

The Pittsburgh Penguins eventually found a way to put Avery out of commission in the second round by lacerating his spleen and sending him to an emergency room, clearing the way for the flightless birds to advance to the Eastern Conference finals and eventually the Stanley Cup finals.

But after a sloppy stint early this season in Dallas, Avery returned to the Rangers just in time to see them make the playoffs. The lucky opponents who have to deal with Avery's sideshow: the Washington Capitals.

Avery will have plenty of targets to go after in the series. First, there's Jose Theodore. But really, it's not that hard to throw ol' Propecia off his game. He often seems frightened by his own shadow between the pipes.

No, Avery will have a much bigger target in this series -- Alex Ovechkin.

Ovie, the league's leading goal scorer, ran amok in the NHL this season. His heavy hits on opponents (often while leaving his skates) kept them honest each time he touched the puck, giving him plenty of open ice as he sprinted down the left wing and unleashed blast after blast past opposing netminders. He even felt confident enough to do a little dance beside the opposing team's net when he scored his 50th goal of the season, with no retribution in sight.

It will be Avery's job to get Ovie off his game in this series. But will it happen? No.

First, Avery won't be able to keep up with Ovechkin's speed.

Second, Ovie is strong like bull. He will shake off Avery like a Washington politician shakes off infidelity allegations. And if he can't shake him off, he'll run him into the boards so hard he'll think he's still dating Elisha Cuthbert.

Third, it doesn't look like Ovechkin's going to buy a ticket for Avery's three-ring circus. Ovechkin knows the score. He realizes he's destined for bigger things. Yes, Sean, even bigger than that internship at Vogue.

If Ovechkin wants to be the star of the league and overtake Sidney Crosby, he's going to have to win at least one playoff series this year. That means staying focused on the task at hand, and not at the hand that will be waving in his face the entire series.

Ovechkin played it real cool Tuesday when asked about Avery's antics -- "I don't care."

"Lots of people say stupid things," Ovechkin told reporters. "But it's just part of the job. They get paid for it. I just ignore him. He likes lots of talk, but (it's better) he talks to the media and not to us."

Well played, Ovie. Ignore Avery and you'll go far. Laugh at him like the clown he is and you've already won.

What?  You're a Sean Avery fan?  Oh, you're the one.  Well then click here for the rebuttal.

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