Overtime: On New York Sports

Halak is one of the reasons the Islanders are one of New York's best teams. Courtesy of Wikimedia

Halak is one of the reasons the Islanders are one of New York’s best teams. Courtesy of Wikimedia

By Anthony Pucik 

New York sports are in a dismal state, and it’s not one fans are used to seeing.

In the NBA, the Knicks and the Nets are both leaving a poor taste in the mouths of fans. The Knicks are off to one of the most historically bad starts in NBA history and have essentially given up on the season.

The team’s most recent trade of JR Smith and Iman Shumpert to the Cleveland Cavaliers, with rumors swirling that it could also be trading Andrew Bargnani and Jose Calderon, shows that the team does not feel like this season is salvageable. At this point, the Knicks are better off getting a high draft pick and seeing who the team can acquire in the offseason.

And, while the Nets are doing better than the Knicks, they haven’t exactly had a tremendous season either. They’re on the cusp of a playoff spot only because the rest of the Eastern Conference is so bad, as their under .500 record has been upsetting after a great start in Brooklyn.
The team’s age is catching up with them and owner Mikhail Prokhorov is willing to sell the team, which he just recently bought.

To top it off, the team is looking to trade players like Brook Lopez to see if they can get younger ones. Few good draft picks are coming up, mainly because of trading for veterans like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, who haven’t exactly panned out. So, while the Knicks might be in trouble this season, the future could be even worse for the Nets.

Looking at the football side of things, both the Giants and the Jets finished the season under 500 and out of the playoffs. The Giants fired defensive coordinator Perry Fewell after another poor showing on the defensive side of the ball this past season, while the Jets parted ways with head coach Rex Ryan and General Manager John Idzik in an effort to change the culture around a team surrounded by a great deal of question marks. The Giants need to focus on getting better on both the offensive and defensive lines, while the Jets might be looking to draft yet another quarterback.

While the Giants, if healthy, have a better chance of performing well next season than the Jets do, neither team is giving their fans much to cheer about.

At least there’s something to look forward to in baseball, right? Well, not really. The Yankees have said goodbye to Derek Jeter and welcomed back the circus that is Alex Rodriguez who has finished serving his suspension for the use of performance enhancing drugs. The Yankee lineup isn’t what it used to be and there aren’t many Mariano Riveras or Jeters in the wings down in the farm system.

Meanwhile, the Mets have a very solid starting rotation with the return of Matt Harvey, Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom, John Niese, Zach Wheeler, Bartolo Colon and possibly Noah Syndergaard.
While the rest of their team could improve in certain areas, the starting rotation and bullpen is something Met fans can look to and smile at in the coming years, but whether or not it will let them be a playoff team is another story.

Hockey is the only bright spot in New York sports currently, something you never thought you’d hear back in the early 2000s. The Rangers aren’t much of a surprise as the reigning Eastern Conference champions, but Rick Nash has been incredible. One of the league leaders in goals, he has been the spark the Rangers offense needed to help them become a more consistent hockey team. Couple that with amazing play from Henrik Lundqvist in net and role players like Kevin Klein, Derek Stepan and Martin St. Louis all contributing, and the Rangers are one of the better teams in the East.

And, if the Rangers are one of the better teams in the East, the Islanders are the best not just in the East, but in the entire NHL.

Their young core of forwards has given them one of the most dynamic and dangerous offenses in the league and the additions of Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy and Jaroslav Halak in the offseason have proven to be the pieces they needed to improve their spotty defense and goaltending over the last few seasons.

People have been waiting for the Islanders to drop off, but it hasn’t happened and doesn’t look like it will. Perhaps a Stanley Cup playoff series between the Rangers and Islanders is what New York needs in an otherwise depressing and saddening season of sports.
Aside from the NBA All Star Game, the playoff race in the NHL Eastern Conference could be the most exciting sporting event to watch in New York until baseball kicks up in the spring, and that’s not that promising either.