As the Tri-State area stands at alert under The Carmelo Anthony Watch, each local team could only pull out one win this week, except for the New Jersey Nets, who didn't win any games. But the most important win, of course, was recorded by the New York Jets, who went into Foxboro and gave Tom Brady and the New England Patriots the 2007 New York Giants treatment: Hit him and hit him hard. And now on to the Player of the Week.
Shaun Ellis: Stopping Brady and the high-powered Patriots' offense was the biggest challenge for the Jets, but stop him they did. They didn't go blitz crazy, but mixed up their coverages, and while the defensive backs were blanketing the New England receivers, Ellis was wreaking havoc in the pocket. The Big Katt (or, if you want to use his given name, MeShaunda Pizarrur Ellis) sacked Brady twice, knocked him dizzy a couple of other times and pitched in with a handful of tackles. Nobody deserves the win more than Ellis, who is the longest tenured Jet, and has been around since the days of Al Groh. He even played in the Monday Night Miracle game. And now he's been involved in another miracle. You can go down the roster, and just about every player contributed: David Harris (nine tackles, three assists, 58-yard interception return), Eric Smith (nine tackles), Calvin Pace (sack, forced fumble), Darrelle Revis (six tackles with Revis Island back in business), Mark Sanchez (16 for 25, 194 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions), Shonn Greene (76 yards, touchdown), LaDainian Tomlinson (43 yards, touchdown reception), Braylon Edwards (touchdown), Santonio Holmes (touchdown), Jerricho Cotchery (five catches, 96 yards), Antonio Cromartie filling in for Brad Smith, Tony Richardson made some bruising blocks and the offensive line was great, not to mention the coaching. But sorry Nick Folk and Steve Weatherford, you were terrible.
Runners Up & Other Notables
Henrik Lundqvist: With the New York Rangers having all kinds of trouble scoring goals, they needed the King to be King-like this week, and he didn't disappoint. He played in three of the four games, and lost two of them, but if it weren't for his heroics, the Blueshirts would have lost all three and most likely would have been blown out in the two close losses. The Montreal Canadiens are his Achilles heel, as he lost 2-1 and 3-2 to Les Habitants. In Monday's game, he made 36 saves and notched an assist for the third game in a row. MSG also showed an old clip from the 1950s or '60s of Boom Boom Geoffrion getting into a stick-swinging brawl with a Ranger. You don't see that anymore. It was straight out of Slap Shot. Montreal scored three goals in a 2:46 span in Saturday's game, but Lundqvist stood on his head to keep his team in the game, but they came up one goal short. He was also inspired by Geoffrion as he jumped on Max Pacioretty and threw a few haymakers at the Canadien after he plowed into Lundqvist. And in one of the best 1-0 regular-season games you'll see, No. 30 shut out the NHL's best team to date, the Vancouver Canucks, for his 30th career shutout. His consecutive point streak was snapped, though. Wojtek Wolski scored his first Ranger goal in the Vancouver game. And Brian Boyle and Brandon Dubinsky continue to lead the Ranger offense, as feeble as it's been.
John Tavares: After a respectable, but not spectacular, rookie season, Tavares didn't set the world on fire to begin his sophomore campaign either. But now? Here he comes. He notched his second career hat trick in the New York Islanders' victory over Buffalo (and a natural one at that, and against premier goalie Ryan Miller), and he also scored in the loss to Vancouver, while picking up an assist in the game vs. the Senators. The 20-year-old has eight goals in his last eight games and 19 points in the last 15 contests. He leads the Islanders with 18 goals, and has 15 assists, as well. Blake Comeau has a three-game goal-scoring streak going. Kudos to Trevor Gillies, who recorded his first-ever NHL goal at the old age of 30. It takes a lot of perseverance and heart to bounce around in the minors for that long. Matt Moulson piled up four assists this week. Kevin Poulin made 48 saves in the shootout loss to the Canucks, which ties a franchise rookie record. And Rick DiPietro was back in the lineup on Saturday, picking up a win while making 40 saves.
Raymond Felton: It wasn't a great week for the New York Knicks, only winning one of three, and they didn't look so hot in their two losses. After losing the last game on their West Coast trip, they looked awfully droopy in their first game back at home, with some woefully bad shooting to boot. In the team's one win, over Portland, Felton starred. He scored 17 points and dished out 14 assists, all while not turning the ball over once. That feat ties a franchise record of most assists without a turnover. He pumped in 23 points in Wednesday's loss, with 11 assists, but was all but asleep in Friday's loss to the Kings. Ronny Turiaf astounded in the victory over the Trailblazers, scoring 19 points, pulling down 10 boards and blocking two shots. The Knicks really need a starting center, though, as Amar'e Stoudemire's wearing down playing the middle (and maybe playing too many minutes), and Turiaf is more backup material and can't stay away from injuries. There were a few eye-popping bench performances this week, but all in losing causes. Shawne Williams (25 points) and Bill Walker (23) picked up some slack in the loss to the Jazz, and Toney Douglas pumped in 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds in Friday's game vs. Sacramento.
Brook Lopez: The Nets went an unsurprising 0-3 this week. Hey, they're rebuilding, right? Even when they get a big lead, they just can't seem to hang on for the win. As Devin Harris said, "We find a way to make mistakes when it counts the most." Somebody has to represent the Nets here (actually, that's not true, I can just skip them if I want); I'll choose Lopez because he scored the most points. His regression this season is alarming, and he was even given a seat on the bench at the end of the Suns game in the battle with his evil twin, Robin, but in the subsequent games, he poured in 35 and 32 points. Sasha Vujacic continues to contribute off the bench, as does Kris Humphries, who just keeps on hauling in those rebounds.
Ilya Kovalchuk: There was a Newark miracle this week, as the New Jersey Devils' victory over Tampa Bay gave the team a two-game winning streak. And filthy rich Russian Kovalchuk actually scored a pair of goals in the same game, giving him 12 for the season. Who would have guessed that Moulson, Comeau, Tavares, Boyle, Dubinsky and Derek Stepan would all have more goals than Kovalchuk? The Devils picked up another point on Saturday, though they lost in overtime, but that gives them five points in their last three games. Old Devil Scott Clemmensen was just a little better than Martin Brodeur, who had a pretty good week himself, though.