Your Announcers and Open Thread For Night Two of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Montreal vs. Washington, Game 1, 7:00 PM ET

National TV (Canada): TSN (HD)
Play by Play: Gord Miller
Color: Pierre McGuire

National TV (US): VERSUS (HD)
Play by Play: Sam Rosen
Color: Billy Jaffe
Reporter: Bob Harwood

Regional TV (Washington): CSN Mid-Atlantic (HD)
Play by Play: Joe Beninati
Color: Craig Laughlin
Reporter: Al Koken

Boston vs. Buffalo, Game 1, 7:00 PM ET

National TV (Canada): CBC (HD)
Play by Play: Dean Brown
Color: Greg Millen
Reporter: Cassie Campbell

Regional TV (Boston): NESN (HD)
Play by Play: Jack Edwards
Color: Andy Brickley
Reporter: Naoko Funayama

Regional TV (Buffalo): MSG (HD)
Play by Play: Rick Jeanneret
Color: Harry Neale
Inside the Glass: Rob Ray

Los Angeles vs. Vancouver, Game 1, 10:00 PM ET

National TV (Canada): CBC (HD)
Play by Play: Jim Hughson
Color: Craig Simpson
Reporter: Scott Oake

National TV (US): VERSUS (HD)

Regional TV (Los Angeles): FS West (HD)
Play by Play: Bob Miller
Color: Jim Fox
Reporter: Heidi Androl 

Jeremy Roenick and Darren Pang Join NBC’s Opening Weekend of Playoff Coverage

NEW YORK – April 15, 2010 – Goaltender Ryan Miller, MVP of the Vancouver Olympics hockey tournament, leads the Eastern Conference’s third-seeded Buffalo Sabres against the sixth-seeded Boston Bruins in Game 2 of their 2010 Stanley Cup Conference Quarter-Final series this Saturday at 1 p.m. ET. NBC Sports’ NHL playoff coverage continues this Sunday when the Western Conference’s fifth-seeded Detroit Red Wings, who are two-time defending conference champions, host the fourth-seeded Phoenix Coyotes at 3 p.m. ET in Game 3.

On Saturday on site at HSBC Arena, Mike “Doc” Emrick (play-by-play), who is nominated for a 2010 Sports Emmy Award, and Eddie Olczyk (analyst) will call the game. Reporting and offering analysis will be Darren Pang and Mike Milbury. On Sunday at Joe Louis Arena, Emrick and Olczyk will call the game with Milbury and Jeremy Roenick reporting and providing studio analysis.

EMRICK: “The playoffs are a battle of wills. Defense and goaltending tends to win at playoff time. There’s also the grit factor and all four of these teams have it.”

BUFFALO-BOSTON: The series begins tonight in Buffalo. Boston won four of the six games during the regular season. The series features the top two goalies in goals-against average and save percentage with Boston rookie Tuukka Rask (1.97 GAA and .931 save percentage) and Buffalo’s Miller (2.22 and .929).

MILBURY: “Both teams have great goaltending, so it’s going to come down to whether or not Boston has enough offense to win games.”

EMRICK: “Ryan Miller was a great goaltender before the Olympics but he is at an even higher level of greatness now. Viewers can expect to see some spectacular goaltending this weekend from all four goalies.”

PHOENIX-DETROIT: The Coyotes lead the series 1-0 by way of a 3-2 home victory last night. Phoenix defensemen Derek Morris scored three points including the game-winning goal 2:19 into the third period. Game 2 will be played in Phoenix on Friday night. The teams split their regular-season series with each winning twice. Detroit is making its 19th consecutive playoff appearance while Phoenix is in for the first time since 2002.

MILBURY: “It’s clear that Detroit isn’t simply going to win games because they are Detroit. They are going to have to earn it. Phoenix is a powerful opponent. They have done a great job avoiding distractions and are making people believe in them.”

EMRICK: “Phoenix is the Cinderella story of all Cinderella stories. I’m excited to see how they react to playing in front of a nationwide television audience against Detroit’s high-powered offense.”

NBC Sports’ NHL Quarter-Final Round Coverage
(All times Eastern)

On Saturday, April 24, NBC Sports will broadcast the Western Conference’s second-seeded Chicago Blackhawks hosting the seventh-seeded Nashville Predators at 3 p.m. ET in Game 5 of their series, if necessary. On Sunday, April 25, Detroit again hosts Phoenix at 2 p.m. ET. in Game 6, if necessary.

Saturday, April 17
Boston at Buffalo, Game 2, 1 p.m.

Sunday, April 18
Phoenix at Detroit, Game 3, 3 p.m.

Saturday, April 24
Nashville at Chicago, Game 5, 3 p.m.*

Sunday, April 25
Phoenix at Detroit, Game 6, 2 p.m.*

* If necessary

Ratings Up On VERSUS For First Night of Stanley Cup Playoffs Among NHL Gains

NEW YORK (April 15, 2010) – The NHL continued its positive business momentum after a record 2009-10 season as the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs launched with triple digit percentage increases in video starts and mobile consumption, and unique visitors and page views on NHL.com earning double digit percentage increases over last year, further validating the League’s digital strategy. The NHL on Versus is also off to a fast start with double digit ratings increases for the first day of the postseason.

DIGITIAL STRATEGY PAYS DIVIDENDS
The NHL continues to engage and connect with more fans than ever on its digital platforms and the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs accelerated that trend. Some highlights:

-Video starts on NHL.com increased by 104 percent over the first day of the postseason in 2009
-Unique Visitors to NHL.com were up 10 percent over last year (1.12 mm to 1.01 mm)
-Page Views on NHL.com were also up 10 percent (7.83 mm to 7.15 mm)
-Mobile page views were up 168 percent

VERSUS UP 14 PERCENT
Versus’ coverage of the first day of the Stanley Cup Quarterfinals showed a 14 percent increase over last year, averaging a .39 overnight rating (.34 – 2009) for the two games (Ottawa-Pittsburgh & Detroit-Phoenix). Game 1 of the Ottawa-Pittsburgh matchup was up 16 percent over last year earning a .43 overnight compared to a .37 last season (Game 1, Philadelphia-Pittsburgh). The Detroit-Phoenix Game 1 also earned a 16 percent increase from last year generating a .37 compared to a .32 (Game 1, St. Louis-Vancouver).

INTERNATIONAL ENGAGEMENT INCREASES
The start of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs drove a record number of downloads of NHL Ice Time 2010, the League’s official app for the iPhone and iPod Touch that is distributed outside of North America.  It remains among the top-five sports apps sold on iTunes in 20 countries outside of North America

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE NHL’S RECORD-BREAKING BUSINESS SUCCESS IN 2009-10
· Corporate sponsorship was up 20 percent
· New League partners this season include Geico, Starwood Hotels, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, LG Electronics and Hershey’s Canada
· Ad spending on NHL® media increased by 37 percent over last season
· Revenue from big event platforms, led by the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®, are up 22 percent over last season
· Unique visitors to NHL.com surpassed last year’s record by 32 percent
· NHL.com attracted a single-day record 1.6 million unique visitors on Sunday, April 11 – besting last season’s regular season final day by 54 percent
· NHL Game Center Live™ subscriptions were up 25 percent
· Sales at SHOP.NHL.com were up 12 percent from last year’s record
· Viewership for NBC’s Game of the Week telecasts were up 13 percent
· Ratings for exclusive telecasts on Versus were up 29 percent
· NHL Mobile™ reached 1.6 million page views, an increase of 233 percent over last season

I Think Commish Bettman’s Running Out of Guests

NEW YORK (April 15, 2010) – Super Bowl quarterback and super hockey fan Boomer Esiason will be today’s guest on NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman on NHL.com and SIRIUS XM Radio at 6 p.m. ET.

Esiason, who played in the National Football League from 1984-97 and who quarterbacked the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1988 Super Bowl, went into broadcasting upon his retirement. Currently a man of many roles, he co-hosts a top-rated New York City morning radio sports talk show, is an NFL color commentator and serves as an analyst with The NFL Today on CBS in the United States.

Also a passionate hockey fan, Esiason owns season tickets to New York Rangers games, plays recreational hockey and has attended many of the NHL’s signature events, including the New Year’s Day Winter Classic games.

An active and involved philanthropist, Esiason established The Boomer EsiasonFoundation in 1993 after his son Gunnar was diagnosed with the disease. The Foundation offers education and awareness of cystic fibrosis to provide higher quality of life for people with cystic fibrosis.

NHL Hour with Commissioner Gary Bettman broadcasts live on Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET on NHL Home Ice (XM Channel 204 and on SIRIUS Channel 208 as part of the “Best of XM” programming package) and NHL.com. The show will re-air on SIRIUS XM Radio, with archived shows available for download via podcast on NHL.com.

The show encourages fans to call in with questions. To submit questions to NHL Hour call 1-877-645-6696.  NHL Hour with Commissioner Gary Bettman is a production of NHL Radio.

Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down On VERSUS First Night Of Coverage

Thumbs Up: VESRUS new graphics scheme.  I’m not over-the-top about the entire thing, but I like it better than it used to be.  I wish they’d convert their “bottom line” to the same thing, but that doesn’t infringe upon me all that much.  The thing that has to be saluted is the new VERSUS score overly, which has been up for a couple months now, however, unmentioned until now by me.  It’s tight, compact, and unobtrusive, whereas the old one was clunky, big and got in the way.  VERSUS has mostly gotten itself into the 20th century.

Thumbs Down: To VERSUS’ new theme.  It is blander than bland.  Do you remember the episode of Futurama where the gang attacks the neutral planet?  Well, this theme strikes off a Beige alert.  It’s much more guitar driven than the old one and less of a rip off of that Joe Satriani song that Satriani thinks Coldplay ripped off.  I had gone quite comfortable with the old one.  Even if it’s boring, it still lets you know there’s a big game going on.  This doesn’t really say anything, except for “blaaaaaah”.

Thumbs Up: To Rick Peckham and Daryl Reaugh, a solid choice to work the west coast games on VERSUS this opening round, as they’ll do the Phoenix games of Wings/Coyotes and the LA games of Canucks/Kings.  They seem to be left to their own devices, calling games in the 10PM timeslot and will presumably be ignored by the casual fan.  They know they’re talking to the hardcore fans and doing a great job of it.  Except for…

Thumbs Down: To the broadcasters not seeming to know what “Throw the Snake” is.  That is all.

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