The New Jersey Nets traveled all the way to London and picked up two wins over the Raptors, including the game of the week, a triple-overtime doozey. If that's what it takes to put up a "W" then all that flying and sightseeing just might be worth it. Maybe there's something about England that is a lucky charm for the local teams. Maybe the next time the New York Knicks play the Cavaliers, they should jump across the pond and battle it out in Wembley Stadium because the Knicks certainly can't beat the Cavs in New York or in Cleveland. The New York Rangers struggle in the Garden (well, except for Sunday), but then go on the road and easily whip the Senators up in Ottawa and just seem to play better on the road. Should the Blueshirts move their home games to Swingin' London? The New Jersey Devils could win anywhere these days. They could play a street hockey game on Road and beat the 1977 Montreal Canadiens the way things are going for them. But now, back here in the States, it's time for the Player of the Week.
Ryan Callahan: The Rangers were starting to sink to the point of no return with losses to Buffalo and Minnesota earlier in the week, but they finished with two sound, resounding and dominating victories over Ottawa on the road and, more importantly, Philadelphia at home. Sunday's win over the Flyers had to be their best game of the year. The Blueshirts have struggled at the Garden all year, so to destroy a division rival in a romp was much-needed medicine for the team. And who was the star? The poster boy of these new Rangers, Ryan Callahan. The right winger had the game of his life on Sunday afternoon, netting four goals and adding an assist. Though he's recorded nine two-goal games, this was his first career hat trick, and it was also his first five-point game (he's had a couple of four-pointers). He also picked up two assists in the other games this week. The modern sports world would be much better off if players across the board were all just a little more like the Ranger leader. He works hard without fail, he's productive, he's a team-first guy, he's humble, he doesn't come with any goofy antics, he's not a showoff and he never embarrasses his franchise or his fans. He's the epitome of what an athlete should be. A Ryan Callahan World would not be such a bad thing. Other Ranger stars this week: Henrik Lundqvist's shutout on Sunday was his league-leading ninth of the year, Mats Zuccarello got off the schneid with three goals in his last two games, Artem Anisimov scored three goals and Vinny Prospal had a goal and four assists in the last four games.
Runners Up & Other Notables
Deron Williams: We could easily name Brook Lopez as the Nets' representative this week, but one of Williams' talents is making the players around him better, and he and Lopez are starting the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Williams is piling up assists as quickly as Charlie Sheen is stockpiling Twitter followers, and he's doing it all with a sore right wrist and ailing left hand. And, let's face it, you kind of need your hands for basketball, among other things. Though one should heed the warning of the preacher in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story: "You know who's got hands? The Devil. And he uses them for holding." The new Nets' star racked up 18, 11 and 18 assists, not to mention scoring 13, 16 and 21 points in the three games this week. And he picked up his first pair of wins with his new club. As for Lopez he had 28, 25 and 34 points, as well as recording two double-doubles. Yes, Brook Lopez got into double digits in rebounds twice, and he blocked an amazing eight shots in Saturday's triple-overtime thriller. Oh yeah, Williams has put up double-doubles in every game he's played with the Nets. Travis Outlaw scored the final eight points for the Nets in Saturday's victory. Kris Humphries has also been his usual double-double self. And Jordan Farmar hit a couple of big threes in Friday's win. London has been very, very good for the Nets. And of course, so has Deron Williams.
Amar'e Stoudemire: Carmelo Anthony may be here, but Stoudemire is still the Knicks' best player. Their win/lose/win/lose path to the playoffs continues, as they learn to gel and coexist together. With Anthony out after getting poked in the eye on Sunday, Stoudemire took over and pumped in 26 points. And the Knicks were surprisingly effective on the defensive end of the floor, which is, of course, the key to success for this team. Amar'e tied his season high of 41 in Friday's loss to Cleveland, and also poured in 24 and 30 in the other two games. Whether he's better without Anthony, with more freedom to do his thing, is irrelevant since their going to be teammates for a while, so they'll need to figure things out. But the two stars had a lot of help this week, and they needed it with Chauncey Billups out with a thigh injury. Toney Douglas was the man in the smackdown of the Hornets, outplaying Chris Paul, Shawne Williams drained one three after another in the win over New Orleans and scored 12 points on Sunday, Anthony Carter was a spark off the bench down in Atlanta and even Shelden Williams scored his first Knick points this week. Or is it Sheldn? Bonus points for anyone who can name the old TV show that joke comes from.
Ilya Kovalchuk: Ho-hum, the Devils won three games this week, one in regulation, one in overtime and one in a shootout. If it were possible to win another way, they would come out victorious in that fashion as well. And their super-rich superstar scored in all three games, including the overtime game-winner over the Penguins. For the season, Kovalchuk has 24 goals with 24 assists, and, like his team, he's on an unbelievable scoring streak, with a point in 15 out of his last 16 games. He, of course, is not alone in helping New Jersey win: Martin Brodeur only let in four goals in the three wins, Travis Zajac notched a goal, two assists and even got into a fight this week and Brian Rolston tallied a goal, an assist and the shootout winner on Sunday.
Andrew MacDonald: The 24-year-old defenseman was a standout for the New York Islanders this week, starring in their two wins. He came up with the first two-goal game of his career in Saturday's 5-2 beat-down of the Blues. And he also put the puck in the back of the net in Wednesday's victory over Minnesota. For someone that only had two career goals before this week that's an absolute explosion. But there's more to MacDonald's game than scoring goals, as John Tavares said of his teammate, "He is a heart-and-soul kind of guy." Tavares himself had a nice week, with a highlight-reel goal against St. Louis to go along with a pair of assists. Blake Comeau scored three goals. P.A. Parenteau contributed with a goal and three assists. Frans Nielsen piled up five assists. And their two goalies weren't bad, either, with Nathan Lawson playing an outstanding game against the Capitals until having a little trouble in the last minute of regulation and overtime, and Al Montoya went 2-0-1, and impressed in his first-ever shootout on Sunday.