The Knicks and Nets are officially dead so baseball season has arrived just in time. The Mets’ and Yankees’ starting rotations got off to rocky starts, but there are 159 games left. No need to panic, right? Right? On the ice, the Devils and Rangers have both clinched playoff spots. They’re the only two Eastern Conference teams to qualify for the post-season in each of the last four seasons. It looks like they won’t be facing each other in the first round, though, so we won’t have Martin Brodeur/Sean Avery redux. At least not yet. The prize for this week’s Hot Stove Player of the Week is a trip to the playoffs.
Henrik Lundqvist: The Rangers’ goalie only allowed one goal in each of his team’s games this week. He made one mistake in Boston, which was one too many, but led the team to two crucial wins after that. And he stopped 37 shots last night against the Flyers and saved the game with a handful of outstanding saves. He notched his 37th victory last night, which ties his career high.
Chris Drury: The Rangers’ captain scored two goals vs. Montreal and added two assists against the Flyers, and he forechecked like the playoffs were at stake last night (which, of course, they were). There’s that clutch Chris Drury we’ve been hearing about.
Frankie Rodriguez: He was two for two in saves to start the season. One was one-two-three easy, but in his second game, he had to MacGyver his way out of the ninth inning. But he did it.
Carlos Delgado/Ryan Church/Daniel Murphy: Delgado looks like the second half Delgado so far: .429, 1 HR, 6 RBIs; Church looks like last year’s pre-second concussion Church: .529, 2 RBIs; and Murphy looks like Murphy: .300, drove in both opening-day runs.
Robinson Cano/Nick Swisher: The Yanks’ second baseman is off to a hot start: .545, 1 HR, 3 RBIs; and Swisher pounded the ball in his team’s first win of the year: 1 HR, 5 RBIs.
A.J. Burnett/Johan Santana: Two good starts out of six between the New York teams. Burnett: 5.1 IP, 2 runs, 6 K’s, 1 BB; Santana: 5.2 IP, 1 run, 7 K’s, 4 BB.
Schmucks of the Week
New York’s Other Starting Pitchers: Joba Chamberlain can say what he wants about New York City drivers, but don’t talk smack about nice guy Yogi Berra. They’ve kissed and made up, but who’s Joba’s next target when he has a few too many drinks? Whitey Ford and his New York accent? CC Sabathia makes the list not so much for his awful debut performance, but because he wears a heating pad (or was that a snack pouch?) on his midsection. There’s no chance of it slipping though. It’s held tightly into place by his money belt. Isn’t all that extra poundage supposed to keep him warm? But Chien-Ming Wang is on here solely because of his terrible outing - 3.2 innings, seven earned runs. And so is Oliver Perez. Is sporting a 16.62 ERA in your first game any way to start the season? We might as well include Mike Pelfrey. He wasn’t as bad as the others, but he struggled and coughed up four runs in his first inning of the year.