Game 7 Softens Blow of Less Star-Laden Final Four
May 13, 2010 9 Comments
The NHL’s had some fantastic luck with regards to matchups in the playoffs the last few years. The Red Wings/Penguins two consecutive classic finals is only the tip of the iceberg. In 2008, a Philadelphia/Pittsburgh Conference Final drew big ratings, as well as the rematch in 2009, the Penguins/Capitals series in 2009, and both Conference Final series (PIT/CAR and DET/CHI) that same year.
This season, regardless of who wins, the prestige and outside attention for hockey’s final four will be a little lower without the game’s biggest star in Sidney Crosby, or the game’s biggest draw in Detroit. Montreal will draw some attention, but it doesn’t have the allure of the American Original Six teams. San Jose hasn’t developed into a hockey hotbed beyond the insanely devoted cult that gathers around the Shark Tank. It remains to be see if a Sharks game can draw 300-400K viewers on NBC, which will likely be tested this Sunday. If I were NBC, I wouldn’t start this game until 3:30, to try and see if you can get as much ratings from the Bay Area as possible.
That said, there is still chance for a blockbuster Stanley Cup Final, which leads me to talking about how ridiculous Game 7 of the Flyers/Bruins series will be. These are two massive hockey markets that are in love with the sport. They draw good numbers outside of their home markets, too. Most of all, there is history in the making here. Most of all, there’s just a ton of hatred and schaudenfruade for both these teams. There will be tons watching to see if Boston gets the karmic bitchslap from the Red Sox 2004 win over the Yankees, tons watching to see Philly get its’ hopes up, only to be knocked right back down again. I think VERSUS, even without the home markets, could draw 2 Million viewers for this. The NBA has the night off, and MLB is mired in regular season, with Bruins/Flyers, it can be done.
Regardless of who wins, the TV folks will likely be rooting for them to make the finals. Imagine if the Bruins could hang on, and then take down their rival Canadiens in the Eastern Final. There would be mass hysteria in the city. A Boston victory and an advance to the Stanley Cup Final could draw interesting storylines either way. A Bruins-Blackhawks (or Canadiens-Blackhawks) final would be the first Original 6 Stanley Cup battle since 1979. A lot of people would tune in just for the allure of those franchises.
That said, a Bruins-Sharks Stanley Cup could be sold on the heels of one man: Joe Thornton. A Montreal vs. anyone final could be sold on the pageantry of the team. A Flyers-Chicago final would be a battle of two tough, black and blue, diehard hockey cities. In fact, when you look at it from most angles, you can see that… maybe the NHL is lucky this year. They get to expose a couple of new teams to the spotlight, but it helps that those teams are just as hockey nuts as Pittsburgh or Detroit, if not more in Montreal, Boston or Philly’s case.
So now we wait. Game 7, Friday night, 7PM, VERSUS/TSN/CSN Philly/NESN. Should be wonderful.