2014stanleycup

The good and the bad of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on television so far

Good: Andrew Ference and Roberto Luongo. Two current players with a reputation for being charismatic and personable were both just that in stints on NBCSN on TSN. For more on Ference’s stint, check out my interview with him. Though Ference says he has greater aspirations post-career, both he and Luongo would make for good TV after hockey.

Bad: Claude Noel. This is more a “Bad” directed at “almost anyone on television who’s said anything about the Columbus/Pittsburgh series.” The former Winnipeg Jets coach  was asked who he’d take first if he were starting a team, and picked Jonathan Toews over Sidney Crosby. The reasoning apparently being that Toews has somehow been more “clutch” recently than Crosby.

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First of all, Crosby is the best player in the game, simple as that. Secondly, he’s having a fine postseason if you take just a rudimentary look at what he’s done that doesn’t involve goal scoring. Finally: if you do look at goal scoring… what about Toews going pretty much silent for the first two rounds of the 2013 postseason, with goalless streaks of 9 and 11 games?

Look, the way networks in both America and Canada have discussed this series has not been good. NBC’s studio coverage has flat out ignored trends of shots on goal and shot attempts (a pretty easy way to determine which team is playing better) to force the narrative about how “great” Brandon Dubinsky of the Blue Jackets had been shadowing Crosby, who averaged a point per game despite both Dubinsky’s constant vigilance and Crosby’s not scoring the magical clutch goal. Combine Canada sinking even below that, and we really need to do a lot better.

Good: The first Sunday of the playoffs. NBC had broadcasts at Noon and 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN had them at 7 and 10 p.m. ET. That’s absolutely perfect. NBC and NBCSN should combine to try and schedule the same thing for both Saturdays and Sundays of the first round. If they can’t do a Noon ET game on NBC before their usual 3 p.m. ET telecast, throw it on NBCSN.

The best thing NBC gives us, much like their EPL coverage, is access to every single game. Before, that was not possible without paying for a digital platform or an on demand cable package. Saturdays and Sundays are almost holidays for me and millions of hockey fans now that things are done this way.

Bad: TSN getting caught. Sunday night, the Anaheim Ducks beat the Dallas Stars in a pivotal Game 6 of their first round series. TSN missed the entire opening period. Why? A youth hockey tournament called the Telus Cup.

While I’m sure their are TV deals in place for this tournament, the Stanley Cup Playoffs must take priority. Because the Raptors had TSN to themselves for Game 4 of their playoff series, TSN2 should’ve been the spot for the game. Instead, a triple overtime game forced the first period of Game 6 from a Stanley Cup Playoff series to the web, which some reported as not working.

How does this end up happening, and does it happen if TSN has the NHL TV contract for next season? While in the end, it really is just missing a period of a hockey game for what could be the best moments of some kids’ lives, it should’ve been handled better by the network. They needed to find a TV home for that first period (NHL Network maybe, where every overflow game goes from NBC’s coverage?) and failed the dozens of Anaheim and Dallas fans in Canada by not doing so.

Good: Kenny Albert. This goes across sports, but Albert has worked, much like Gord Miller, pretty much every day. The difference is that Albert has thrown in Fox Saturday Baseball telecasts with hockey games for NBC, NBCSN, and New York Rangers’ broadcasts on their local ESPN Radio affiliate. He has been a pro through pretty much all of them.

Bad: Jeremy Roenick. Roenick remains a work in progress after many years at NBC. He was caught calling the Anaheim Ducks “the Mighty Ducks” multiple times during Sunday night’s broadcast, and seems to have been weirdly coronating 18-year-old Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche a Hall of Famer in his first season. Someone of Roenick’s stature should be a TV star by now, and it says a lot that NBC keeps him to CNBC or as a backup to Mike Milbury and Keith Jones during its biggest season.

Good: Tim Thompson. The man comes through with excellent montages on CBC, always. There’s not much to say beyond that. Thompson is as indispensable an employee as CBC Sports has, and I really hope he’ll find his way to Rogers in the next TV deal.

Steve Lepore

About Steve Lepore

Steve Lepore is a writer for Bloguin and a correspondent for SiriusXM NHL Network Radio.

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