It was a somewhat non-Christmas-y week leading up to Christmas, what with Rex Ryan's wife's feet in the news, the aftermath of the New York Giants' collapse and the John MacLean firing. Those three items aren't very festive. But the New York Knicks put a gift in everybody's stocking with a green-uniformed win over the Chicago Bulls, the New York Islanders won three games and the New York Jets clinched a playoff spot despite losing to Chicago. But the bah-humbug Giants were at it again on Sunday. What was worse, the game against the Eagles or the embarrassment vs. the Packers? Well, we know the Player of the Week is not a Giant.
Dwayne Roloson: Holy Al Arbour! What's gotten into the Islanders? They won all three games they played this week, and have come out on top in four out of their last five. The 41-year-old goalie starred in the trio of games, only allowing one goal in each. He made 34 saves in the victory over Tampa Bay, 34 again in the shellacking of the New Jersey Devils and a whopping 38 in the 4-1 win against Les Habitants. With Rick DiPietro having an up-and-down year, and with knee issues again, Roloson has come through with a great season, despite his and the team's record. There were a bushel of Islanders who had an outstanding week: John Tavares netted the overtime game-winner against Tampa Bay, scored against the Devils and added a helper in the win over Montreal. P.A. Parenteau had two goals and two assists. Josh Bailey put two in the back of the nets vs. New Jersey. Frans Nielsen scored his third shorthanded goal of the year and added two assists. Andy MacDonald had four assists. And James Wisniewski had a goal and three assists. It was an explosive week.
Runners Up & Other Notables
Raymond Felton: Defense was the theme of the week, with the Knicks winning their two games and keeping the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Chicago Bulls both under 100 points. Landry Fields was compared to John Havlicek this week (the team even wore green uniforms to accentuate the comparison), so that must make Felton Walt Frazier. No one was better than Clyde at swiping the ball, shutting down an opponent and leading the team on offense, and that's just what Felton did on Christmas against Derrick Rose. Felton had five steals, clamped down on the D, scored 20 points and dished out 12 assists. Amar'e Stoudemire chipped in with a huge block of Rose in the fourth quarter. Does that make him Bill Russell? The Knicks' new superstar had his usual two games this week, Fields was up to his always-hustling tricks, as well, highlighted by his swooping-in offensive rebound of a missed foul shot, and Wilson Chandler continued his excellent season with two more solid games.
Mark Sanchez: The Jets offense put 27 points on the scoreboard, which should have been enough to win the game, but the defense let them down. Sure, Dwight Lowery had a pick six, but where was the pass rush, pressure and tackling by the D? Sanchez was the team's best player up until that interception at the end. That's two solid games in a row for him, after a handful of clunkers. He went 24 for 37 for 269 yards, and one touchdown. Dustin Keller was his go-to guy, just like early in the season. The tight end hauled in seven passes for 79 yards. Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson each scored a touchdown, and Santonio Holmes also scored, though he fumbled, which led to a Bears touchdown. But they made the postseason for the second consecutive year of Rex Ryan's colorful tenure with the Jets.
Derek Stepan: The New York Rangers only played one game this past week, and if it weren't for two inexcusable turnovers by Michal Rozsival and Dan Girardi (we don't even have Wade Redden to blame anymore), they would have gotten two points, as they played a strong game. The 20-year-old rookie scored his 10th goal of the year, and it came at just the right time and was a doozey to boot. The score tied the game in the third period, which earned them one point in the standings. He now has 20 points and is playing like a wily veteran. Mats Zuccarello made his NHL debut. The "Norwegian Martin St. Louis" scored a clutch shootout goal to keep the Rangers alive in the skills portion of the game, and otherwise fitted right in his first taste of the North American big leagues. And Henrik Lundqvist was blameless on the first two goals of the game, and in the shootout made one save after another until finally faltering in the 11th round.
Sasha Vujacic: If nothing else the New Jersey Nets are collecting players that will give the team the best-looking celebrity fan base in the NBA. Between Kris Humphries with Kim Kardashian and now Vujacic with Maria Sharapova, they've increased the beauty quotient in Newark tenfold. The Nets went 1-1 this week, beating the Grizzlies but falling to the Hornets. Vujacic has given the team energy and a boost off the bench. He poured in 16 points in the win and 12 in the loss. Avery Johnson said of his new player, "I don't want to take anything away from our guys who've been here. I'm more of a body language guy and a spirit guy. And he has such a great spirit. He has great life. He reminds me of a soccer player. Great energy. Even when he makes a mistake, you can live with it. Very unselfish, just what we needed."
Y.A. Tittle: The only non-tortuous part of the Giant game was the 30 seconds that Joe Buck and Troy Aikman spent discussing the old Giants quarterback from the early '60s.
Jacques Lemaire: The Devils just flat-out stink at this point, so Lemaire gets a mention for having to put up with all their shenanigans.
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