More Coverage is More Gooder

NHL on NBC

With Game Six being the end of the NHL season, NBC took center stage as the Pittsburgh Penguins took home their second straight Stanley Cup and fifth overall to the delight of many and the disgust of many more. However, while NBC did have the game itself, couldn’t the NHL and their rightsholder have done more to make this coverage an even bigger deal for fans??

Full disclosure: I’m a cord-cutter and use SlingTV as my main visual aspect of getting games on top of NHL.TV for coverage. The closest NBC tower is 40 miles away and getting a good reception in this wind field that is North Dakota is near impossible and with the NBC Sports App, you apparently need a cable provider to sign up and have them be cool with it. If you have any ways to legally get around it, then let me know in the comments because my dumbass doesn’t know how to.

Is there a reason the NHL didn’t make a possible series-clinching game one of the biggest events over their networks of coverage?? Granted, NBCSN did have their own stuff to cover, like the new-to-you showing of the Canadian Grand Prix (which had happened that afternoon) that night after their pre-game coverage to Game Six; but why not put NHL Network to work for something like this?? Maybe give hockey fans an alternative to the claptrap they have to endure with NBC’s announcers, like playing the Sportsnet/CBC coverage on the NHL Network to give another aspect of the game with different voices than that of what NBC pushes onto fans.

Sure, it was nice to see the NHL Network play Sportsnet’s “NHL Classic” series where they have pop-up video elements over classic games in a sixty-minute span, but wouldn’t some kind of alternate simulcast be just as good for hockey fans?? Maybe do to the series-clinching games like ESPN does with the NCAA National Championship Football MegaCast in putting different analysts on a simulcast of the game to give their differing opinions.

The second-screen experience is what other sports give their fans. Whether it be through radio calls, enhances stats during the game, or some other alternative to what the main broadcast is, it seems that the NHL has lacked that for a time and is behind on a lot of sports in that nature. Even if it’s just giving an alternative viewing, why not have people watching something rather than be mad at the broadcast team they have now. Hell, why not just get rid of the group of people you have and get new blood in there– but that’s another discussion for another time.

Like I said, NBCSN probably does have other properties they have to show contractually, so they might not be available to pull off this kind of thing, especially when it’s not a one-and-done thing. However, NHL Network hasn’t proved that they are showing anything but reruns of old games or some random animated show hosted by Boomer Esiason. Why not utilize this league dedicated network to the Cup Final series and give fans an alternative and a reason to watch that channel outside of the On The Fly aspect during the season. To do something like that with the Cup-clinching games (at least) could get people to actually tune into the channel and give a fresh spin for those who are overly sick of the NBC talking heads.

I just feel that if you have a big event like the Cup-clinching game, more than just NBC would be the spot to watch, especially when the auxiliary channels deal with the bulk of the post-game after the Cup is won due to local news or some other NBC program coming on after the game’s time-slot.  Make it a big event because it’s the biggest event of the hockey year. Hell, even if you have to do it two or three or four times, why not do it and treat it like a big deal?? Just seems there’s so much to do when it comes to the broadcast that is left on the table by letting NBC keep it to just one channel for the game itself and not give a second-screen experience that other sports give their fans.

PREDICTION: Stanley Cup Final(s)

When I was growing up, it was called the Stanley Cup Finals and sometime along the post-lockout world it became the Final; but whatever. Everyone is in the prediction business, so why not go for it myself??

Short and sweet, too.

As much as I loathe the Pittsburgh Penguins, this year they’re trying to be the first back-to-back team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998, which is made especially difficult in a salary cap world. Without Kris Letang and without Sidney Crosby at 100% (and even then he’s 2nd in playoff scoring), guys like Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel have stepped up in a big fashion, while I don’t think we’ve seen the best out of Phil Kessel yet. Hell, Matt Murray is trying for his second Stanley Cup in his rookie season, which is just wacky as hell when you say it out loud like that. However, the Penguins have really showed their depth and showed how their system really could be a model for most teams in the league going forward.

On the other side, the darling of the hockey world has been the Nashville Predators and the fans of Nashville who people are just discovering. While they don’t have the offensive fire-power, they do have some of the top defensemen in the league in Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and PK Subban. Upfront, Filip Forsberg has truly blossomed to the player people thought he was going to be, while Colton Sissons is going to get paid this summer because of his John-Druceian performance this playoffs. Luckily, Pekka Rinne has also came to play for the Predators after an up and down season for him this season. The loss of Ryan Johansen is a big one, but it’s a “next man up” mentality for this team who have really bought into Peter Laviolette’s message.

It’s going to be interesting to see how the Penguins react to having played so much since October 2015, as this is their second straight run of this magnitude. They aren’t the young guns they were back in 2008 and 2009 when they made this kind of run themselves. Coming off of two Game 7s in the past two series, the Pens could be running on fumes; but you can bet they have some gas in their tank saved up just for this.

The Preds, on the other hand, are amazing in team stats in having a +18 goal differential and only have let up 29 goals this playoffs. They’ll be very tested against the top scoring team in the playoffs, but Rinne will probably be equal to the task. As the second Wild Card in the Western Conference, this team is playing with house money. They don’t know they shouldn’t be here and are going to play the next however many games with as much enthusiasm as they did leading up to this.

PREDICTION: It’s really a “head vs. heart” for me because I know what the Penguins can do, but I think the Predators could really pull it out because they have the defense-first mentality that usually gets teams very far in the playoffs.

Predators in 7. Rinne will continue to be hot, the Preds defense will rule the day again, the Pens will feel the effects to all the games in the past two season and not have that extra juice needed to win.