It was a winning week for the local teams. The New York Jets cruised to victory on Thanksgiving, the New York Giants stopped their losing streak and pulled out a win, the New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils and New York Knicks all won three out of four, the New Jersey Nets won two out of four and even the New York Islanders finally won. I even managed to put up my Christmas lights. It was touch and go with a few Clark Griswold moments, but the deed is done and no trip to the hospital was needed. Each team's winner below has a case for Player of the Week honors. All three hockey team's goalies came up big in important games this week, Eli Manning stopped the bleeding for the Giants, Amar'e Stoudemire was superb for the Knicks and Devin Harris wasn't too shabby this week. But we'll pick a Jet for the third week in a row because he did it on a holiday and his performance was the most spectacular, so Brad Smith is the people's choice.
Brad Smith: Shoes? He don't need no stinkin' shoes. Ok, there's the obligatory "Shoeless Brad" comment. The Jets were about to do it again, meaning playing another close game against a subpar rival that they should have been dominating. Mark Sanchez fell back into his "just ok" routine after his heroics of the previous few weeks, but Smith came out in the second half and carried the team on his back. A 53-yard dash down the field for a touchdown was just the warm-up for his 89-yard, one-shoe-wearing kickoff return for a score. Between his returns, rushes and receiving, he gained a total of 200 yards. Other Jet standouts: Santonio Holmes scored his weekly touchdown (five catches, 44 yards), Calvin Pace was all over the field, with seven tackles and a sack, and Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie (interception) completely humbled Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco--ok, that's impossible, but at least they shut them up. Well, that's impossible, too. They totally outplayed them.Let's go with that.
Runners Up & Other Notables
Eli Manning: The Giants quarterback earned his money on Sunday, with legends such as Derek Hagan and Danny Ware as his receiving targets. Manning wasn't lights out, but he didn't make many mistakes--no fumbles and no interceptions. He went 14 for 24, good for 226 yards, and threw two touchdown passes. And he didn't attempt any left-handed throws or headfirst dives. So he had that going for him. But it was one old-reliable who came through in the end, in Kevin Boss, who caught the winning touchdown pass, along with two other key receptions in the second half. And last receiver-standing Mario Manningham also scored and made a couple of other nice catches. It was like old times for Brandon Jacobs, bulling his way for 87 yards (6.2 average). Lawrence Tynes booted three field goals. Terrell Thomas had a pick and a big strip sack. Jason Pierre-Paul had a pair of sacks. And Justin Tuck gave the halftime speech of the year.
Rick DiPietro: It's over! This one will last a lifetime! Well, not exactly, but the losing streak, the embarrassment and the waiting are done with. And the Islanders beat the division-rival, battle-for-last-place Devils at that. DiPietro earned his shutout with 29 saves, and a whitewashing was probably the only way the Isles would get back in the W column. It's Jack Capuano's first NHL win to boot.
Johan Hedberg: The Devil goalie played like vintage Martin Brodeur this week, leading his team to three wins. That's right, the Devils won three games this week. Hedberg shut out Washington on Monday, only let in one goal in the shootout win over Calgary on Wednesday and beat the Flyers as well, only allowing one puck to slip past him. Yeah, he lost to the Islanders, but three wins in one week is cause for a parade in downtown Newark.
Henrik Lundqvist: We'll finish our goaltending trifecta with the return of the King. He shut out Florida on Friday, making a whopping 40 saves along the way. And on Saturday, he made 29 saves in regulation and overtime, with only one measly goal getting to the back of the net, and then he was flawless in the shootout. Welcome back! Martin Biron was also great in his one game this week, a 2-1 win over the Flames.
Amar'e Stoudemire: The Knicks big free agent acquisition led his team to three wins this week, and played like the big-money guy he's supposed to be. He poured in 37 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the Knicks' double overtime win on Sunday. In Wednesday's game against Charlotte, he scored 20 points, but it was his six blocked shots that were the key to the victory. Raymond Felton continues his impressive play, scoring 23 points with 13 assists in his homecoming win against the Bobcats. And his clutch free throws secured the team's win on Tuesday. And Landry Fields keeps on motoring in his surprising rookie season, putting up double/doubles on a consistent basis. He even occasionally out-rebounds the team's centers. Not bad for a shooting guard.
Devin Harris: Avery Johnson recently challenged his two most talented players in Harris and Brook Lopez, and they responded positively. Harris came up big in Sunday's win over Portland with a huge three-pointer and a couple of free throws. He scored 27 points and 25 points to go along with nine and eight assists in the team's two wins this week. He also added 20 and 19 points in the two losses. Lopez exploded for 32 points in Tuesday's win over Atlanta, and added nine rebounds. He scored 16, 25 and 13 points in the other three games this week.
For more in-depth discussion on the Jets, Giants, Nets, Knicks, Rangers, Islanders and Devils, go to SB Nation's Gang Green Nation, Big Blue View, NetsDaily, Posting and Toasting, Blueshirt Banter, Lighthouse Hockey and In Lou We Trust, respectively.