Playoff Slapshots: NHL puts Caps-Pens at risk, more notes
Game 1 starts at 1 PM Eastern on NBC. If it goes 60 minutes, no worries. Even a taste of overtime wouldn't be a problem . . . as long as a winner is determined in the first extra frame. If it goes beyond the 80-minute mark, that's where the horse flop hits the fan. And if it does, shame on the league.
NBC's Saturday broadcast plan also includes the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby at 5 PM. Great for them. Trouble for us.
It doesn't take a long memory (so I'm covered) to recall that the network chose to break away from an exciting overtime playoff duel for pre-race coverage of the Preakness Stakes back in 2007, leaving viewers of the Buffalo-Ottawa Eastern Conference Finals scrambling to find the game's conclusion on Versus.
Lesson learned? Not quite.
That 1 PM start doesn't leave Saturday's game broadcast with a lot of wiggle room. If it goes to a single OT period, NBC plans to stay with it. If it goes beyond that, the game will be kicked over to the league's cable partner Versus, except in the Washington and Pittsburgh markets.
Don't blame NBC if it happens. They've got to follow the money. The Derby is a cash machine for the network, a huge gambling event (take note of that aspect of sporting interest, NHL) that guarantees tens of millions of eyeballs. As excited as we may be about the Pens and Caps, this game just doesn't have the same juice on the national sporting scene. It's a lousy way to be reminded of that fact, but it is what it is.
Seems like the NHL could have mitigated the potential for another embarrassing bump by moving the game up to a noon start. Not a major concession on the front end considering the ramifications on the back end. That's something to remember if we're left scrambling for the remote, or a local watering hole with Versus on tap, come 5 PM.
For Boston, that means generating an aggressive forecheck that pins Carolina's defense in its own zone. Watch for
An advantage for the Ducks? Has to be, simply because Rafalski is such a smooth, steady presence both five-on-five and on Detroit's bread-and-butter power play. But don't underestimate Ericsson. The rookie doesn't have Rafalski's resume, but he brings a big, physical presence that might make him better suited for the task of slowing down Anaheim's crease-crashing top line of
Where it could hurt the Wings is when that third unit is out. Ericsson and
Getzlaf's unit accounted for half the Ducks' goals in the first round, so secondary scoring is a concern coming into the series. With
While the thought of losing Rafalski -- and not knowing for how long -- is worrisome, Detroit fans can at least take solace in