NEW YORK - Sean Avery easily brushed off Martin Brodeur's snub in the handshake line following the New York Rangers' five-game, opening-round playoff win against the New Jersey Devils.
After all, there will be more goalies to antagonize in what he and the Rangers hope will be a long run through the Stanley Cup playoffs.
"We just wanted to come out and win the series," Avery said after the Rangers' 5-3 road win Friday night finished off the Devils in the Eastern Conference matchup. "We played well as a team, and it's step one of four steps."
Most of Avery's steps and drives ended with him in Brodeur's crease and face. He has long agitated the man who is close to becoming the winningest goalie in NHL history.
No one's pedigree is impressive enough for Avery to change his game. If anything, the credentials rile him up more.
"I just tried to go to the net, and I think that's what we tried to do all series - go to the net hard and play hard around the net," he said. "That's how you score goals in the playoffs."
The affable Brodeur proceeded through the handshake line once the Rangers' third win of the series in New Jersey was complete. He extended his hand to each New York player - except for one.
Avery had already endured a night of being targeted by the likes of Devils forwards David Clarkson and John Madden, who repeatedly pounded and knocked down the pest. A diss from a perturbed yet vanquished opponent certainly wasn't going to faze or rattle him.
When asked if he is built to handle heat and abuse dished out by opposing players or a thirsty media corps that can't seem to get enough of him, Avery's answer was simple.
"I think that's pretty obvious, don't you?" he asked with a sincere yet perplexed look and a hint of laughter in his voice.
He's not the first to be blown off on a handshake line in the playoffs. New York Islanders Hall of Fame goalie Billy Smith was famous for not even joining them. Avery continued through the parade of Devils as Brodeur passed and turned his head away.
"Everyone talks about how much class I don't have, well it's the end of the series and men go to war against each other," said Avery, who scored in each of the first three games. "I guess he forgot to shake my hand.
"Of course I was going to shake his hand."
Avery saved his sharpest words about Brodeur for a television interview, calling the three-time Vezina Trophy winner "Fatso."
One could only imagine what was said each time he crashed the crease, or when he waved his arms and stick in Brodeur's face during a Game 3 power play - an act that forced the NHL to amend its unsportsmanlike conduct rule the next day.
"I knew there was going to be a lot of attention on me," Avery said. "I don't know the extent of it because I don't read sports. I read Vogue. I just try to stay focused.
"I tried to do what was best for the team, and I just wanted to play hard and win games."
Four down and 12 to go to win the Stanley Cup.
As the No. 5 seed in the East, the Rangers could face top-seeded Montreal, Pittsburgh, Washington or Philadelphia in the second round. New York would own home-ice advantage against only Philadelphia, a scenario that as of Saturday afternoon seemed unlikely.
Whoever they play next, the Rangers expect to be ready. Last year, New York got to the second round after a 10-year absence before falling to the top-seeded Buffalo Sabres in six games.
The prime villain in that series was Chris Drury, who scored the tying goal for the Sabres in the closing seconds of regulation in Game 5. Buffalo went on to win that one in overtime and then eliminated the Rangers at Madison Square Garden two days later.
Now Drury is on their side after signing a big free-agent deal with the Rangers. The forward netted the winning goal in the clinching win over New Jersey.
But the key to any Rangers success will certainly fall on the shoulders of goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who outperformed Brodeur in the regular season, when New York took seven of eight from New Jersey, and in the playoffs.
Lundqvist, in his third NHL season, was a Vezina finalist his first two years. He played very well in holding the Devils to 12 goals in the series.
"Any team that ever goes through the Devils, you learn a lot," said forward Scott Gomez, who joined the Rangers as a free agent last summer after spending his first seven seasons with New Jersey. "Finally being on the other side, you realize that to go through New Jersey is going to build confidence. It's a big step.
"That first round is one of the toughest to get out of. But that's not the reason that we came here, to win one series. You look at all the guys, we want to bring a Cup back to New York. And we put ourselves in a position to move on."