The New York Yankees came up short in every way possible in the ALCS. As Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman and just about everyone else said, they were out-pitched, out-hit, out-fielded, out-managed and out-everythinged. The Texas Rangers were not intimidated or cowed in the least by the aura and mystique fog machine that the Bombers wheel out every October. I guess you can't win every year, not even if you're the Yankees. And the unbridled joy of the Texas post-game festivities was a nice change of pace from the usual Yankee going-through-the-motions, if-it's-not-the-World-Series-we're-trained-not-to-show-happiness, polite-applause-from-the-crowd celebration. There were no football games this week, so that just leaves the final Yankee rundown, and the three local hockey teams, who were good (New York Islanders, New York Rangers) and bad (New Jersey Devils). And now, the Player of the Week:
John Tavares: I really wanted to pick Cody Ross or Juan Uribe, as they gave Met fans everywhere just a little bit of sunshine, but I don't think they really qualify to be New York Player of the Week. So I'll pick an actual New Yorker who had the best week, which would be Tavares. The 20-year-old wunderkind notched the game-winner in overtime against the Maple Leafs, when he ripped a one-timer past Jean-Sebastien Giguere. And on Saturday night, he recorded his first career hat trick, albeit in a losing cause to Florida. The puck has a way of finding him in front of the net, and he has a way of making himself invisible around the opponent's defenders. He's a natural at sniffing out a goal. For the week, he scored four goals and assisted on two others, and now has seven points in five games for the year. James Wisniewski also had a nice week for himself, with four assists (one goal, seven assists for the season), and is doing an admirable job of picking up the slack for the injured Mark Streit. P.A. Parenteau (three assists) and Dwayne Roloson (29 saves, one goal against on Monday) chipped in to help the Islanders' cause, too.
Runners Up & Other Notables
Henrik Lundqvist/Martin Biron: With the Garden filled with goalies of Rangers past last night, how could Henrik Lundqvist lose? John Davidson and Gilles Villemure looked on as the King outdueled Martin Brodeur in the Rangers' 3-1 victory over the Devils. Lundqvist made 27 saves, and was always in perfect position to defend the net against New Jersey's third-period onslaught. He continues his domination over Brodeur and also over the Bruins, who he beat on Saturday in Boston, only allowing two goals (35 saves), though he lost to Colorado on Monday. Martin Biron dazzled in his Ranger debut, defeating the Maple Leafs, stopping 24 shots and only letting one slip by him. The Ryan Callahan/Brandon Dubinsky/Artem Anisimov line was flat-out awesome last night (and all week). They're setting an example and leading the way trying to form a new team identity using simple, old-fashioned concepts of hard work, selflessness and being physical as the recipe. And let's give some love to Michal Rozsival, who scored a goal and assisted on three others this week, and because he's been haunted by the ghost of Bill "The Big Whistle" Chadwick ("Shoot the puck!"), he's been taking the old Rangers announcer's advice and has not been so shy about putting the puck on net.
Martin Brodeur: The Devils are quickly going into a tailspin, but at least Martin Brodeur is beginning to look like the Brodeur of old. He shut out the Canadiens on Thursday, stopping all 29 shots. And he was the best player on the ice for New Jersey last night, as he kept his team in the game until the final seconds. On Saturday he tried to spend a relaxing evening flipping through The New Yorker, People and other magazines the Devils keep at the end of their bench, but Johan Hedberg's New Jersey debut proved to be a disaster, and Brodeur was called into service. Zach Parise scored two goals this week, but that's about it for Devils highlights. At least Ilya Kovalchuk is well rested.
Robinson Cano: The Yankee second baseman was just about the only player who came through for the team, at least offensively. A few in the lineup had a good game here and there, but Cano was the only one who kept it up in both postseason series. In the four games played this week, he only went three for 12, but two of the hits were homers, and for the series he banged out nine hits, belted four dingers and drove in five. Andy Pettitte did his job in his one start, but unfortunately he had to face Cliff Lee, which is pretty much an impossible task when the month is October. CC Sabathia gutted out a win in game five, Mariano Rivera did what he could do and Kerry Wood wasn't the disaster that the rest of the bullpen turned out to be.
For more in-depth discussion on the Yankees, Rangers, Islanders and Devils, go to SB Nation's Pinstripe Alley, Blueshirt Banter, Lighthouse Hockey and In Lou We Trust, respectively.