2013 was an absolute nightmare for all sports in New York City. That’s pretty hard to do, considering there are nine teams in the area in the big four sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL). The Yankees and Mets both missed the playoffs, the Giants and Jets were an embarrassment, the Knicks and Nets were dismissed abruptly in May and now are struggling in a bad East, and all three hockey teams are very mediocre. No championships, just one division title, and five playoff absences.
So, each team has a New Year’s resolution as they all try to build for a better 2014 and try to bring home some championships to the greatest city in the world. I’ll start with teams that are still playing (the two NBA teams and three NHL squads)
Brooklyn Nets: Make the playoffs without Lopez?
The Nets were embarrassingly dismissed from the playoffs last May by the Chicago Bulls sans Derrick Rose. So, their Russian owner decided to make another big splash in the summer.
After trading for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the Nets became instant favorites in the Atlantic division and were expected to challenge the Miami Heat. Coached by former Net great Jason Kidd, the team featured a starting five of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Pierce, Garnett, and Brook Lopez. Along with a bench featuring Andrei Kirilenko, Jason Terry, and Reggie Evans, expectations were as high as the C-word (championship. What, were you expecting something else?)
However, the seasons has so far been a total disaster, a 10-20 start leaves them 12th in the Eastern conference. Matters are even worse with All-Star center Brook Lopez out for the year with a broken foot. Lopez has been one of the most productive big men in the league, averaging over 19 points per game since 2009. Still, with the Eastern conference being total garbage, the Nets are still only 2.5 games out of a playoff spot, so all hope isn’t lost – yet.
New York Knicks: Don’t panic or make any bad moves
The Knicks have been even worse than the Nets this season. After getting outplayed and outhustled by the Indiana Pacers in the second round of the 2013 playoffs, they made really just one big move: A trade for Andrea Bargnani, a seven footer who shot below 40% from the field in 2012-13. So far this season, it’s been an absolute nightmare, a 9-21 record leaves them second to last in the East. Injuries, inconsistencies, and organizational madness had cursed the Knicks like usual, but it’s as bad as it can be.
The resolution for the Knicks is to not panic. They’re still a few games out in a terrible conference, so a big winning streak will get them going again. They can’t, I repeat, CAN’T make any of their usual desperate trades, giving us whatever assets they still have (Tim Hardaway, Jr. has been a revelation, second among rookies in three-pointer percentage and fourth in PER). All hope is not lost yet, but a coaching change may be necessary for survival this season.
New Jersey Devils: Stop relying on the old guys so much
A year after returning to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Devils collapsed during a lock-out shortened season doomed by a late 10-game win-less streak. This year, they’re still not great but they’re hanging in there in a mediocre Metropolitan division. They’d probably be near the bottom of the division if not for the heroics of two 41 year-old legends: Jaromir Jagr and Martin Brodeur.
Jagr continues to be amazing, leading the time in both goals and assists and has has 34 points, nine more than Patrik Elias. Brodeur continues to be consistent, playing to an 11-8-3 record with a 2.31 GAA and .906 save percentage. Still they’re going to need more than them to make the playoffs. Jagr is only one of two double digit scorers for the Devils, and Adam Henrique has just 18 points in 41 games. More firepower needed.
New York Islanders: No sleep til Brooklyn?
The Isles made the playoffs the first time in six years in 2013, pushing the top seeded Penguins to six games. From there, the future looked bright with John Tavares leading the way. Things seemed to get brighter after they traded for Sabres scorer Thomas Vanek. However, they have tanked again this season, currently last in the Metro division and second worst in the Eastern conference.
The primary problem for the Isles is the lack of toughness and zero consistency at goalie. Have to wonder when it’s going to get better, and it won’t at Nassau. The team will move to Barclays Center in Brooklyn after the 2015 season, so hopefully that helps big time and increases their revenue, allowing them to surround Tavares with better talent.
New York Rangers: Put the puck in the net!
With a new offensive minded coach running the show with the King, many expected the Rangers to be one of the elite teams in the East and perhaps compete for the Cup. However, it hasn’t exactly panned out, as they’ve been hovering around .500 for weeks and barely in the playoff picture. They’re 8th in the league in power play percentage, but just 27th in goals per game.
Why? Well, the offense hasn’t been exactly great. Rick Nash has been slow and lazy after dealing with a concussion. They’ve been carried by rookie Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello. Good, but not enough, it seems. Center-wise, Derek Stepan and Brad Richards have been strong points-wise, but they haven’t scored much. Time to start taking better shots and put the damn puck in the net. It’s maddening.
There hasn’t been much consistency on the blue line other than Ryan McDonagh, who is breaking out as one of the elite defense-men in the NHL. The defense overall has been horrible, and Henrik Lundqvist is having his worst season (2.77 GAA and .906 save % aren’t bad, but not the King’s caliber.
Part 2 will come later, covering New York’s MLB and NFL squads are all four missed the playoffs in 2013.