Monday, April 13, 2009

An undeniably biased review of the Versus/NBC NHL playoff schedule

Wanna plan your playoff viewing schedule? Puck Daddy has all that info in one nice little post.

In the interest of fun and anger creation, I've decided to rank each series 1-8 from my own interest. That being said, the Coverage Rating is based on how well Versus/NBC is meeting the needs of hockey watching audiences. Make sense? No? Then just stare at the pretty pictures.

Ultimately, this year's first round looks INCREDIBLE. The first two series are borderline dream series for your humble author. And keep in mind: we want to have wall-to-wall playoff coverage. Even if the SCF ends up being something blandtastic like New Jersey vs. St. Louis. We'll probably bitch a lot if it's NJD vs. STL, though.

1. Pens - Flyers
All seven games (if necessary) will be televised. Two are eligible for NBC coverage. No surprise: the networks heart Sidney.

The Penguins are my team. The Flyers are the team that could hurt me the most (and have). This series will give me blood pressure issues.

Coverage rating: 66 Buries out of 10

Sorry Sleek, you might have to learn where VS is on your dial. Every game these two teams play will be carried on the Engblom Network

The only series that can challenge Pens/Flyers for my own personal interest is the long time coming BoC. After all, you probably found out about CLS from one of these sources: 1) BoC; 2) Puck Daddy; 3) One of the great contributor blogs from the All-Decade Team and Hockey Orphan.

Coverage rating: 10 Pronger elbows out of 10

3. Boston vs. Montreal
If you want to watch the most storied rivalry in hockey, you either need to have Center Ice or NHL Network needs to save the day. For Americans, at least. Only one game (game 2) is on Versus. Ouch.

Aside from Bos/MTL fans I might be the only one that interested in this series, but damn I really like both of these teams. This could be a brilliant series or a Shakespearean one (Price = Humpty Dumpty; or the Habs ruin the Bruins out-of-nowhere run of greatness), but either way I wish I could see it. People talk all the time about an "East Coast bias" but Versus/NHL obviously has a Canadian bias.

Coverage rating: 2 lethal lines with the Coke-stitsyns (Pun Credit goes to Hockey Dump there) out of 10

4. Chicago vs. Calgary
Three games on American TV

Getting to know - even on a basic Interwebs level - guys like Kent (Calgary) and the Hockee Night guys (and let's not forget Clare) makes this series one that ranks higher in my heart than hockey mind. Plus, I really haven't had the chance to see the Blackhawks as much as I'd like this season. The flimsy coverage makes my heart song weak.

Coverage Rating: 4 Erratic Mike Keenan goalie changes out of 10

5. Detroit vs. Columbus
This one was a shocker. Only three games on Versus for Detroit, one of the golden standards for the NHL? Wow.

This series brings plenty to the table. The majestic, diverse offense of the Red Wings takes on super-hyped rookie goalie Steve Mason. Ken Hitchcock and Mike Babcock matching wits in a true clash of coaching titans. Rick Nash playing in his first playoff games. Possible Drew Carey sightings. Damn. Sign me up.

Coverage Rating: 2 bad Drew Carey jokes out of 10

6. New Jersey vs. Carolina
Only one game is on American TV: and that game (6) might not even happen.

There is a part of me that is actually VERY excited about this series. It's why I picked it over a series featuring the human hockey highlight reel. For one thing, I might hate the trap, but I'm from New Jersey. There's a part of me - evil, indeed; made of coal perhaps - that likes Marty Brodeur and the Loophole Lou Crew. I also have a bleeding heart for Eric Staal, Erik Cole, little Ray Whitney and - dare I say it - even Rod the Bod. Another choice based on my weirdness.

Coverage Rating: 1 trashy New Jersey accent out of 10

7. Washington vs. NYR
Every game in this series (except oddly enough, the first game) is on NBC/Versus.

This series would be in the top 3 if the Rangers weren't so "meh"-tastic. The Henrik Lundqvist-era Rangers are like a mediocre football team: they beat the teams they should beat and lose to the teams that should beat them. Alex Ovechkin is why I will watch every game anyway. In a normal year this would be one of the highlights, but this year is just too full of intrigue for this series to be particularly special.

Coverage Rating: 8 Great 8's out of 10

8. Vancouver vs. STL
Whhhhhhhhhhhhat? THIS series gets 100 percent Versus coverage? Now that makes no sense.

That being said, the playoffs are looking so good that I might watch every first round game I can. Simply enough, I get the feeling Blues - Canucks will be kind of boring. Hey, don't get me wrong, I hope I'm wrong. It's hard to look past the defensive-leaning ways of both teams and the rugged, garbage goal scoring forwards on each squad. As much as I love the Sedins, this series will gain my attention because it's on. But much like Kyle Wellwood's girlfriend, deep down I'll wish that there was something sexier going on.

Coverage Rating: 10 Keith Tkachuk fat jokes out of 10.


jamestobrien said...

This post is taking the place of the afternoon cycle this week.

Stevens8204 said...

Anaheim-San Jose has everything for me. It will drive many nuts that every game is on VS. but you know what...with the alternatives by me....its not half bad. Devils-Canes could be exciting if Walkom has his way.

Great look at the first round!!!

jamestobrien said...

Yeah, Versus isn't a problem for me but it could be for some with different (or just basic) cable packages. Overall, this is a great situation for the NHL and I hope the league handles everything (suspensions, marketing, officiating) with a deft hand.

AmyB said...

I wish I could see more of the Bruins-Canadiens series, but I'm okay with most of it.

It would be great if the NHL would shift the whole thing up a month or two so I don't have to choose between playoffs and finals.

jamestobrien said...

Yeah, I honestly think in an ideal world a Feb. (after superbowl) to early March (before Madness) would be the perfect solution but that would NEVER EVER happen.