It's a good time to be a Devils fan. For the rest of the local sports enthusiasts, February 17th and the start of Yankees Spring Training (the Mets kick things off on the 18th) can't come soon enough.
Marty Brodeur's bunch is in second place in the Eastern Conference and fighting an entertaining battle with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the top spot in the Atlantic Division these days which makes them an anomaly among New York sporting outfits. The Knicks are floundering, the Nets are pathetic, the Islanders are better than expected but still not playoff material and the Rangers are fighting a losing battle to hang onto the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
They lost 4-2 to the Penguins at the Garden last night after blowing a third period lead. Two of Pittsburgh's goals were scored by a fellow named Chris Conner. Conner is so highly regarded by the Pens that he was sent to the minor leagues moments after the game ended, which means he'll be sharing a booth at a Scranton Chili's with Michael Scott, Dwight Schrute and, presumably, some non-fictional characters while the Rangers keep muddling their way to another disappointing season.
The end of the Jets season means that it's going to be pretty dry around these parts until the baseball teams get back in action. There will be the occasional green shoots of hope, to borrow a phrase from our Fed Chairman, like the news that Johan Santana played an injury-free game of catch on Monday, but it's mostly going to be losing teams grinding their way toward the end of seasons that went nowhere fast.
Maybe there are worse things than a little break. We got to enjoy the Yankees and the Jets was an unexpected jolt of excitement to a football season that provided more than a few rough patches along the way. That's pretty good for a three-month span, so a little perspective isn't a bad thing.
Moan and groan about the way Glen Sather has saddled the Rangers with another round of overpaid veterans who are crushing the team if you like, or do your best to find some reason to believe in a basketball team that considers Chris Duhon starter material. Or ditch those exercises in frustration and wait for Spring. It seems like an easy call when put that way.