PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 20: Marian Gaborik #10 of the New York Rangers celebrates his third period goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on March 20, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Rangers defeated the Penguins 5-2. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
It was a week of explosions around the New York area the past seven days. The New York Rangers exploded for three goals in 1:07 in the first period of Friday's win over Montreal and two goals in 11 seconds on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and they exploded for six goals in the Canadiens game and also against the Islanders on Tuesday. Toney Douglas (and all the New York Knicks) exploded on Thursday night with a three-point barrage. Jared Jeffries exploded for five points on Thursday night (hey, for him that's an accomplishment). Carmelo Anthony exploded out of the visitors' locker room in Detroit. The New Jersey Nets just plain exploded on Sunday when they blew a 17-point lead to Washington. And now on to the Player of the Week, who had a mini explosion himself.
Marian Gaborik: The Hockey Gods ensured that justice prevailed on Sunday, as the Rangers defeated the Penguins, 5-2. Matt Cooke gave out another one of his patented cheap shots, with an elbow to the chops of Ryan McDonagh, and Pittsburgh scored a go-ahead, shorthanded goal soon after. It would have been a shame for the Blueshirts to lose that way, but their character and tenaciousness came through once again, and the good guys prevailed. Ryan Callahan symbolizes all that is good with this edition of the Rangers, and he had a very productive week scoring three times and adding three assists, but it's Gaborik the team really needs to catch fire, and he's on his hottest streak of the season. The right winger tallied four goals in the three wins this week, including the game-tying score on Sunday to avenge Cooke's flagrant hit. Gaborik now has a goal in four of his last five games after only notching two in the previous 14 contests. The Rangers' other elite player that needs to be at the top of his game is Henrik Lundqvist, who is recovering from a shot to the head himself after getting steamrolled by Montreal's Benoit Pouliot. The King was spectacular in the win over the New York Islanders, hung in there with a stiff neck in the victory over the Canadiens and only allowed a pair of pucks to get by him in the Penguins game. The Rangers uncharacteristically netted 17 goals in the three wins this week, so there were plenty of offensive stars. Brian McCabe recorded his first Ranger goal, Artem Anisimov piled up two goals and three assists, Brandon Dubinsky score one with four assists and Vinny Prospal had a goal and three assists and has a nine-game point scoring streak going.
Runners Up & Other Notables
Travis Zajac: The New Jersey Devils hit a huge bump in the road this week with two straight losses, even though they were bookended by two victories. And the Rangers are winning these days, while the Buffalo Sabres picked up three points over the weekend, which isn't making things easier for New Jersey. But it was a record-setting week for the team, as Zajac tied and then broke Ken Daneyko's franchise mark for consecutive games played. He's the Devils' new iron man, and the team couldn't have a better representative than Zajac. And he even chipped in with a goal in Tuesday's win over the Thrashers, which was the record-tying game. Jacob Josefson (of the Stockholm Josefsons) scored the game-winner in the Atlanta game and also picked up an assist in the loss to Ottawa (will Ottawa turn out to be New Jersey's Waterloo?) and in Sunday's win over Columbus. David Clarkson was the hero in the victory over the Blue Jackets, while Martin Brodeur notched yet another shutout in that game, though he only had to make 13 leisurely saves.
Kris Humphries: The Nets began their week with a monster upset of the Boston Celtics on Monday, which was their fifth consecutive victory. Talk of making a long-shot run at the playoffs was bubbling to the surface, but by the time the weekend ended, things had changed dramatically for the team. New Jersey lost their last three games of the week, and Deron Williams reinjured his right wrist, missed Sunday's disaster and he'll be out for at least the next two games as well. After being sky-high just a short time ago, the Nets now have to wash away the sour taste of three losses, including the meltdown against the Wizards. Humphries gets the nod for the Nets this week, due to his stellar all-around play. He's improving with each season, and is playing the best ball of his career right now. He put up a double-double in all four games (16/15, 13/16, 10/11, 18/17), and he's now averaging just over 10 boards a game. Jordan Farmar recorded a career-high 17 assists filling in for Williams on Sunday. Brook Lopez continued his resurgent play this past week. And Williams was one of the key contributors in the win over the Celtics, with a huge three-pointer at the end of the game.
Toney Douglas: The Knicks are still a work in progress right now, but they're more work than progress. Momentum is swinging the wrong way for them, as they only managed one win in four games this week. Douglas was the star in the only victory so he gets the honors for his team today. He pumped in a franchise-record-tying nine three-pointers in the win over Memphis on Thursday, matching Latrell Sprewell and John Starks' mark, and he shot 75 percent from behind the arc. The team set a record themselves with 20 threes. The young Knick guard drained four more threes on Friday in Detroit, and scored 20 points with 11 assists. He's been a dynamo off the bench, bringing energy and aggressiveness to the team. Not much else went right for the Knicks this week, though. Amar'e Stoudemire and Anthony continue to score 20-plus points every game (except for Friday's career-lowlight performance by Anthony), but it's not translating into wins, especially when they dig themselves a 32-9 hole in the first quarter, as they did in Milwaukee.
Michael Grabner: The Islanders went 1-1-1 this week, and the young speedster was the offensive leader. Grabner notched a goal and an assist in each of the last two games. His goal in the victory over the Florida Panthers gives him an impressive 30 for the season, which leads all NHL rookies. Matt Moulson also picked up his 30th of the season in the loss to the Rangers (and he had two assists as well). John Tavares had a goal and a pair of assists in the Rangers game. P.A. Parenteau was the star in the Florida win, with a regulation goal and the shootout game-winner. Frans Nielsen picked up a goal and two helpers, along with a shootout goal this week. And Rick DiPietro made a triumphant return from a broken face on Saturday, with 29 saves and a few extra in the skills competition to boot.