New Look NHL Net Finally Has a Pre-Game Presence
April 15, 2011 1 Comment
There’s still some kinks to be worked out about NHL Network’s new three-hour pre-game combination of NHL Live and a pre-game edition of NHL On the Fly. The new, more telegenic edition of NHL Live can a feel a bit more awkward without the traditional “Radio on The TV” format of limited camera angles and two people talking into the microphones. On the Fly is pretty stable, but could still use some perking up.
The fact is, there’s potential here, and the NHL Network has once again done fans a favor by merely existing and doing something that wasn’t available to us before: essentially, the network has created a three-hour pre-game show. Not just that, but a three-hour pre-game show with enough different looks and different things to do than just the standard studio show that it is watch-able without, for the most part, being boring. All the NHL Network had to do was come up with enough material to fill the time, and they have. As long as this wasn’t a disaster, it was going to be solid.
NHL Live, as I said, looks awkward, but maintains it’s position as the more entertaining of the NHL radio shows, ahead of the now radio-only once again The Power Play, which was dull as dirt for TV. NHL Live was always the better show regardless, and I won’t necessarily miss The Power Play in that slot, save for Phil Esposito’s guest appearances. You figure they’ll figure out how to make it a more interesting visual show.
Without Don LaGreca hosting with EJ Hradek, the show simply isn’t as good. But current host Deb Placey sets up Hradek, who manages to keep his less-annoying version of Chris Russo schtick in check, for some decent hockey talk. I also liked the Billy Jaffe cut-in interview with Ian Lapperiere. I hope that returns, as well as the whip-around to announcers at each venue. Reminds me of how FOX does it before their football games, and provided some good info.
NHL On the Fly is using some new analysts during the post-season, and working hosts and analysts in shifts each night. The hour I watched pre-game featured the fairly dependable Kelly Chase and Brad May, the latter of whom I’d never seen do studio work before, but seemed pretty adept at it. This show got more into the locker rooms of each game, using clips from various regional sports networks, and re-using very little of the NHL Live footage.
As for the new look in terms of graphics? I like it quite fine. It eats up less space in standard definition, and the viewers in HD get a bit of a bonus with quickly updated live scores during game actions. It still isn’t the most exciting show on earth, but On the Fly continues to become more watch-able, and continues to be better than Hockey Central. That’s really all it needs to be, and all the NHL Network needs to be: a visible, dependable destination for the hockey fans who want the coverage.