The New York Week That Was (11/20/09)

Hot Stove New YorkSenior Writer INovember 20, 2009

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 09: Danilo Gallinari #8 of the New York Knicks shoots the ball against the Utah Jazz at Madison Square Garden on November 9, 2009 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

The Knicks won a game this week!

And The Answer may be coming to New York (so the question must be: Will a desperate team do anything to keep their fans interested?). But with last Friday’s loss, the Knicks established the worst 10-game start in franchise history. Things could be a lot worse, though; here are some other bad starts throughout history that may help them feel better about themselves:

The Hindenburg blew up over New Jersey on the first of its 10 scheduled round-trips between Europe and the United States, killing 36 people; the Titanic hit an iceberg and sunk four days into its maiden voyage; William Henry Harrison died of a cold one month into his presidency in 1841; Wally Backman lasted four days as manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks before he was unceremoniously shown the door; Gilligan’s three-hour tour got off to an inauspicious start, getting stranded on a deserted island for 15 years, until the castaways were miraculously rescued, followed by them buying the island but almost losing it in an evil scam until they we re helped out of the jam by the Harlem Globetrotters; Richie Cunningham’s brother Chuck on Happy Days appeared in only two episodes in the first season and was never heard from again; the Seattle Pilots existed for one measly year before moving to Milwaukee; and my career selling rodeo tickets over the phone lasted two days before I woke up and came to my senses.

The lesson in all this for the Knicks is that they could explode in a fireball over New Jersey at any moment, sink to the bottom of the ocean taking Leonardo DiCaprio with them or be written out of the NBA altogether like Chuck Cunningham was. The best case scenario for the team: The Harlem Globetrotters come to the Garden and save their ass.

That takes care of the Knicks; now let’s look at the other local teams and we’ll put fun, convenient labels on them to boot:

An Efficient Machine

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Devils : Their nine-game road winning streak (one short of tying the NHL record) and eight-game overall winning streak both ended on Monday night in Philly on Dave Schultz (Slap Shot as an opposing player.) Night, as he was inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame. Is there any significance or special meaning to that? Schultz was the personification of the brawling 1970s, and holds the all-time single-season record for penalty minutes, with 472 in 1974-’75. Isn’t it about time that somebody started a Hockey Goon Hall of Fame? 

Jacques Lemaire and the Devils are the epitome of defensive hockey. They rank 21st in goals per game, at 2.56, but their league-leading 2.07 goals against average has them in first place in the Atlantic Division (despite two losses in a row). Lemaire spent much of his playing days learning how to play defense by centering a line with Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt, as he had to backcheck his way through many a game, while those two sharp shooters poured in goal after goal.

Surprise Team

Islanders : After getting off to a rocky start, the Islanders are one of the surprise teams of the NHL. That’s what hard work will do for you. John Tavares is living up to his billing (19 points), while Matt Moulson is turning into the find of the century (18 points). They’re going in the opposite direction than the Rangers, who they’ve caught in the standings, both totaling 23 points.

Sinking (But it’s a Long Season)

Rangers : The good times (7-1 start) are over (4-8-1 since). They can’t score, they’re not tough enough, they’re too easy to play against, they take too many penalties, they have too many defensive breakdowns and they’re shorthanded at center with no replacements in sight. Can they recover or is the makeup of the roster too much to overcome? Maybe John Tortorella should start crying. That seems to be the coaching technique du jour.

Sinking (But There’s Still Hope)

Giants: They had their best week in over a month, with Dallas, Philly and even Atlanta (if you’re starting to keep track of the wild card race) all losing. The Giants haven’t looked this good since they defeated Oakland. The key to their success, of course, was not actually playing a game. Their best strategy from here on out may be to not take the field at all. Can you decline the rest of your schedule the way you can decline a penalty and take your chances on your present record?

Sinking (And They’re Running Out of Time)

Jets: The Jets players are making their coach cry. But poor clock management, wasted timeouts, a plethora of turnovers and a defense that can’t make the big stop are making Jets fans cry. The team has the swagger part down; it’s just the beating the opponent part that’s troubling them. Mark Sanchez has a prepared statement all set to go for his next postgame press conference on why he entered a hot dog eating contest at halftime of their game up in New England on Sunday.


Nets: The Nets are doing even worse than the Knicks and are planning to jump back to the ABA before they have a chance to go 0-82. They’re hoping to put a schedule together and play against the Spirits of St, Louis, San Diego Conquistadors, Virginia Squires, Memphis Tams, and Kentucky Colonels once again and regain their dominance in that defunct league. They play the Knicks on Saturday (if they can scrounge up enough players). Will the world explode if one of those teams actually wins the game?


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