Your NHL TV Guide and Open Thread For Night One of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs

This will appear every night to inform you of the TV networks and announcers that will be covering the games during the playoffs.  Enjoy all the local and national info, after the jump.

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Heidi Androl and Some Dude Host NHL.com Pre-Game Show

We’re kidding.  We love Rob Simpson… whoever that is.  From NHL.com

With the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs set to begin on Wednesday night — unquestionably one of the more entertaining nights of the year — NHL.com will debut the Cisco All-Access Pre-Game Show at 4:30 p.m. ET from the NHL Store Powered by Reebok in midtown Manhattan. 

Co-hosts Heidi Androl and Rob Simpson will be breaking down each game Wednesday night and will do the same every day of the playoffs that a game is scheduled. For Wednesday’s openers, there will be on-location reports from New Jersey and Washington, plus a visit fromBuffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller. On Thursday, New York Islanders center Doug Weight will sit with Heidi and Rob to talk about the postseason, and the Isles winning the right to pick first in June’s NHL Entry Draft. 

This is a great idea.  The NHL just needs to keep expanding it’s coverage of… itself to suit it’s fans as more mainstream sources continue to either shun it or run out of money.

Gary Bettman Soothes Hurt Feelings at VERSUS

From SportsBusinessDaily’s NHL/VERSUS Playoff Overlook (reg. required), which cites a story from the New York Post:

In N.Y., Richard Wilner cited sources as saying that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was “on the phone last week trying to make nice with Versus” after AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke reportedly recently told ESPN/ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer the league needs to “get back on ESPN.” Bettman was also “trying to get Leiweke back on the reservation.” An NHL source: “I can assure you Leiweke’s views are not shared by the executives at the NHL. Versus has been a strong partner and we value the relationship.” Versus said in a statement, “We have devoted more in-depth coverage than the sport has ever seen, resulting in double-digit increases in viewership each year.” Wilner noted AEG “operates about three dozen arenas around the world and it could very well be that [Leiweke] was trying to make nice with ESPN to stoke a deal with another property somewhere else” 

Well, it’s all well and good that they’re trying to mend fences, but VERSUS has not given the sport more in-depth coverage that certainly ESPN2, and probably ESPN gave us.  We had 30 minutes of hockey highlights every night and 3-4 games a week on ESPN/ESPN2 for awhile.  In the playoffs, they covered almost every single game.  VERSUS should use these statements as a motivator to cover hockey better.

The Folks at Bangin’ Panger Will Certainly be Happy About This

From NBC’s weekly TV listings:

SATURDAY, APRIL 18 
1 p.m. – 4 p.m. 
NHL CONFERENCE QUARTERS: NY Rangers @ Washington Capitals (Game 2) (live) 
Commentators: Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, Darren Pang, Mike Milbury 
Site: Verizon Center, Washington DC 
*Available in High Definition 

McGuire always misses some NBC playoff action due to TSN commitments, but who knew it’d be so early in the playoffs?  Anyway, were not usually the biggest Darren Pang fans, but it’s nice to see anyone different calling these NBC games once in a while.

We’ll attempt to find out if Hobo Bob Neumeier will be back hosting the studio show for the playoffs, too.

By the way, fun fact: Darren Pang is only 44.  Really?

BREAKING: NHL Network to Televise First Playoff Game in the U.S.

Thanks to Schuyler Baehman of the NHL’s Communications Dep’t and all-around good guy (and who’s Twitter feed you should check out) for sending this along to us, as we’ve been hoping for this for quite some time:

In the first time of NHL Network U.S.’s history, it will broadcast a Stanley Cup Playoff game by airing live Game 2 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Conference Quarter-Final match-up between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Detroit Red Wings from Detroit on Saturday, April 18 @ 6pm ET.   

Locally, Fox Sports Detroit and Fox Sports Ohio will broadcast this game live as previously scheduled.  NHL Network will be blacked out in those local markets. 

So there you go.  Mr. Baehman told us that there are “no decisions yet on if other games will be on NHL Network”.  This is a great decision, as we’ll be able to flip back and forth and tune into some bonus playoff hockey.

Your Mid-Day YouTube Compulsory: FOX is Doin’ Fiiiinnnnne, It’s Cup Time!

Your Puck the Media “Staff” Selections for the First Round of the Playoffs

Well, we don’t really have a staff.  So we’re just gonna post the picks for me and Wrap, and then a few of our regular guest contributors.  Enjoy them after the jump.

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From the Funny Department: NCAA Title Game Out-Draws NBC Tilt

Chalk one up for the “We want ESPN!!!!ZOMG!!!!ESPN!!!!GARYTHORNEOMFG!!!!ESPN!!!!” crowd.  ESPN was able to produce an average hockey telecast on Saturday while we went bowling.  

What is funny though, is that the game actually drew better than the NHL game that aired on NBC the same weekend.  According to the annoying Michael Hiestand of USA Today, the game between Boston University and Miami (OH) drew an 0.7 overnight rating on the Worldwide Leader in Manny Ramirez news, up 75% from last year’s Notre Dame-Boston College final, which makes no sense at all to us.  As we told you yesterday, the Red Wings-Blackhawks drew a mere 0.6 overnight rating on Sunday.

Well, why?  Chalk it up to 1. The NHL game meaning nothing and being in a timeslot that no one was familiar with, while ESPN had done a decent job hyping this Frozen Four, getting more games onto the more mainstream channels like ESPN2.  Oh, and fine, it is ESPN, after all.  Maybe if they put as much effort into NHL hockey during the final few years of their last contract as they did to college hockey the past couple of weekends, we’d be willing to hear about how great ESPN is for the league.

But, before we get off the soapbox here, this is great news for college hockey.  This could lead to the NCAA drawing a 1.0 overnight or better for next year’s already much-hyped Frozen Four at Ford Field in Detroit.  If ESPN can create any kind of Winter Classic-type feel to this game at all, we might see it draw better than a meaningful NHL game on NBC.

Are You Ready?