Yotes to Surprisingly Get Precedence Over Baseball In the Postseason

From AZCentral.com:

The opener of the Phoenix Coyotes playoff series vs. the Detroit Red Wings now will be televised on a local station.

Channel 3 (KTVK) and Versus, which is available as a premium channel from many providers, will broadcast Game 1 in the Valley.

Fox Sports Arizona will televise Games 2, 4, 5 and 7.

NBC, Channel 12 (KPNX) in the Valley, has exclusive television rights for Games 3 and 6.

If there is a conflict between a Coyotes playoff game and a previously scheduled ArizonaDiamondbacks telecast on FSAZ, the Diamondbacks games will move to an alternate channel or broadcast time.


Review: The Daily Line is a Hot Mess, but I’m Fallin’ For You

Feel free to believe me on this one.  I was already overly generous to them once on that test show.  That was me throwing a network I like and some people I like a bone.  This is for real.  The Daily Line, in about a week’s time, has become the world’s most watchable sports talk show on television.  It’s kind of like being the world’s tallest midget, but there’s certainly no shame in being a fairly accessible, at times riotously funny (Namely: Whenever comic Reese Waters says/does anything) show that happens to be about sports.

Producers round this great nation for years have tried to crack the unsolvable mystery “How do we take ‘The Daily Show’ and do it for sports?”.  There have been numerous attempts.  “Sports Soup” is exactly that, and I guess it’s succeeding based on the fact that it’s still on.  Still, not many are likely watching.  Kenny Mayne was given a pilot.  Dennis Miller had a show for a little while.  No one’s been able to make sports funny on a daily basis.  Why?  Because sports isn’t always inherently funny, so you have to treat it somewhat seriously because people care.

This is where The Daily Line, I think, succeeds.  There are no faking bipartisanships on the show, to the point where all the anti-Mets humor gets really friggin’ annoying and I want to punch Jenn Sterger and Liam McHugh and Reese Waters and Rob DeAngelis in the face.  Like, directly in temples.  But I kinda like that in my sports shows.  Not to the point where it gets insufferable and acting like you’re an expert (Dear Liam McHugh: Referencing Mike Francesca twice in your first week endears you to no one), but as long as you’re just trying to give your take, without promising gospel, I like some honest disagreement.

The sports discussion, which often relies too much on odds and numbers for someone like me, who doesn’t give a shit about gambling, is pretty decent – again, no one’s pretending they aren’t a fan here – as sports shows go.  No one’s yelling, everyone’s cracking jokes, you feel almost as if the cast should have a beer to go along with it, and I think if VERSUS is going to let them crack some foul language that I usually only hear on “South Park”, they might as well.

There are some obvious failings on the show.  First of all, on a network who’s top property is hockey… nobody knows jack shit about hockey.  DeAngelis is the only person who comes close to even hinting that he might know a little, and then he keeps referring to Flyers goaltender Brian Boucher as ‘Bobby Boucher’ from The Waterboy, which would be funny… if you didn’t think DeAngelis wasn’t convinced that Bobby Boucher is his real name.

Again, there’s way too much reliance on odds.  Does anyone gamble on hockey or regular season basketball?  Or even regular season baseball, for that matter?   Go easy on the oddsmaking and five canoli specials until football season, please.  The reliance on blogs seems forced as well.  Yay, just what I want to hear, a joke from a blogger that’s only funny when read to yourself, on live TV!  I’d pretty much drop that.  Unless you want to talk to bloggers, there’s no real reason to pretend you care about the web for any other reason than viral videos and interacting with viewers.

That said, it’s far from the worst thing VERSUS has thrown at the wall (‘Fanarchy’ anyone?) and probably easily the best show I’ve seen in my five years following the network.  That’s not to say that there aren’t a multitude of improvements that could be made.  I think the show’d be tighter at a half-hour long instead of an hour.  I think they should cut down on the gambling talk.  I think someone there should know something about hockey on a network that’s going to show about part or whole of 80-90 hockey games the next two months.

But that said… it ain’t bad.  And that’s pretty good as far as sports talk goes.

VERSUS Coverage Plans

NEW YORK, N.Y. (April 13, 2010)-VERSUS, the fastest growing sports cable network in the country, will drop the puck on its wall-to-wall coverage of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday, April 14.  The network will start the night at 6:30 p.m. ET with the first Playoffs edition of Hockey Central followed by the first game in the Ottawa Senators/Pittsburgh Penguins series at 7:00 p.m. ET.  VERSUS will air another Hockey Central show at 9:30 p.m. ET followed by Game 1 in the Detroit Red Wings/Phoenix Coyotes series at 10 p.m. ET.  VERSUS concludes its first night of coverage by joining Game 1 of the Colorado Avalanche/San Jose Sharks series in-progress following the conclusion of the Red Wings/Coyotes telecast.

VERSUS is entering the postseason with tremendous momentum.  The network kicked off the 2009/10 season with the most-watched opening night in network history and the March 22 Detroit Red Wings/Pittsburgh Penguins game was the highest-rated and most-watched regular season game in network history, as well as the most-watched NHL regular season telecast on cable since 2004.  The network also saw a 33-percent spike in HH ratings (.4) and a 23-percent increase in average viewership (347,000) for the 12 exclusive games following the Olympic break as compared to the pre-Olympic, 40-game average (.3 HH rating and 283,000 viewers).  The .4 HH rating and 347,000 average viewership for the final six weeks of exclusive games was also up 33 percent and 20 percent, respectively, compared to the final six weeks of the 2008-09 regular season (.3 HH rating and 288,000 viewers).

Throughout most of the postseason, VERSUS will televise at least one game per night, however most nights during the first two rounds will feature a double or triple-header.  In the Conference Quarterfinals, VERSUS’ coverage is non-exclusive and subject to local blackouts.  In the Conference Semifinal round, VERSUS will air two exclusive games per series and during the Conference Finals the network will air exclusive coverage of both series.  VERSUS’ 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage will culminate with exclusive coverage of Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

VERSUS always seeks to institute new production enhancements to provide an even better viewing experience for fans and for this year’s Playoffs will use Liberovision technology in each postseason game.  This cutting-edge analysis tool creates unique perspectives and the ability to rotate the image 360 degrees to get a better view of how the play developed.  To further enhance the viewer experience, the network will also debut new theme music and a new graphics look for the Playoffs.

Each night the network televises a game VERSUS will air its NHL studio show, Hockey Central.  Hosted by Bill Patrick with Brian Engblom and Keith Jones, Hockey Central provides extensive insight and commentary of the games and what’s happening around the NHL during the Playoffs.  Throughout the Playoffs, Hockey Central will continue to feature guest analysts who made appearances during the regular season, including Darren McCarty, John Stevens and Mike Keenan with additional guests to be announced throughout the Playoffs.

VERSUS.com is the online destination for NHL fans to find extensive information about the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Fans will have access to editorial coverage from some of the most knowledgeable hockey sources; exclusive videos and interviews as well as daily highlights from all of VERSUS’ games; polls and quizzes; an interactive community section where fans can post videos and photos and join or start message boards; AccuScore game projections; and live gamecasts and scoreboards for every game.  The network also recently launched a hockey application on the iPhone, Android and Blackberry Storm enabling viewers to access up-to-date statistical information, expert editorial analysis and videos on the go for the Playoffs.

VERSUS’ Quarterfinal round schedule follows (All times ET, subject to change):

DATE                                       TIME                            GAMES                                                            CONFERENCE

Wednesday, April 14              7 p.m.                          Ottawa at Pittsburgh, Game 1                       Eastern

10 p.m.                        Detroit at Phoenix, Game 1**                        Western

12:30 a.m. (JIP)         Colorado at San Jose, Game  1                        Western

Thursday, April 15                  7 p.m.                          Montreal at Washington, Game 1                  Eastern

10 p.m.                        Los Angeles at Vancouver, Game 1               Western

Friday, April 16                       7 p.m.                          Ottawa at Pittsburgh, Game 2                       Eastern

9:30 p.m. (JIP)           Nashville at Chicago, Game 1                          Western

11 p.m. (JIP)               Detroit at Phoenix, Game 2                            Western

12:30 a.m. (JIP)         Colorado at San Jose, Game 2                        Western

Saturday, April 17                   7 p.m.                          Montreal at Washington, Game 2                  Eastern

10 p.m.                        Los Angeles at Vancouver, Game 2               Western

Sunday, April 18                     6:30 p.m.                     Pittsburgh at Ottawa, Game 3                       Eastern

9 p.m. (JIP)                Nashville at Chicago, Game 2                          Western

11 p.m. (JIP)               San Jose at Colorado, Game 3                       Western

Monday, April 19                    7 p.m.                          Buffalo at Boston, Game 3                              Eastern

10 p.m.                        Vancouver at Los Angeles, Game 3               Western

Tuesday, April 20                    7 p.m.                          Pittsburgh at Ottawa, Game 4                       Eastern

9:30 p.m. (JIP)           Chicago at Nashville, Game 3                          Western

11:30 p.m. (JIP)         San Jose at Colorado, Game 4                        Western

Wednesday, April 21              7 p.m.                          Buffalo at Boston, Game 4                             Eastern

10 p.m.                        Vancouver at Los Angeles, Game 4               Western

Thursday, April 22                  7 p.m.                          Ottawa at Pittsburgh, Game 5*                     Eastern

9:30 p.m. (JIP)           Chicago at Nashville, Game 4                          Western

11 p.m. (JIP)               Colorado at San Jose, Game 5*                     Western

Friday, April 23                       7 p.m.                          Montreal at Washington, Game 5*                Eastern

10 p.m.                        Detroit at Phoenix, Game 5*                         Western

Saturday, April 24                   7 p.m.                          Pittsburgh at Ottawa, Game 6*                    Eastern

TBD                             San Jose at Colorado, Game 6*                     Western

Sunday, April 25                     7 p.m.                          TBD, Game 6*                                                 TBD

TBD                             Vancouver at Los Angeles, Game 6*             Western

Monday, April 26                    7 p.m.                          Washington at Montreal, Game 6*                Eastern

TBD                             Chicago at Nashville, Game 6*                       Western

TBD                             Colorado at San Jose, Game 7*                     Western

Tuesday, April 27                    7 p.m.                          TBD                                                                 TBD

10 p.m.                        TBD                                                                 TBD

Wednesday, April 28              7 p.m.                          TBD                                                                 TBD

10 p.m.                        TBD                                                                 TBD

*Games subject to change as best-of-seven series may be over

**VERSUS’ Game 1 coverage of the Detroit/Phoenix series will be exclusive in Phoenix

(JIP) – joined in progress

VERSUS, the fastest growing sports cable network in the country, prides itself on super-serving passionate sports fans across all platforms (VERSUS.com, VERSUS on Demand and VERSUS HD).  Now in more than 75 million homes, the network is the cable television home of the National Hockey League (NHL), IZOD IndyCar Series, Tour de France, World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) and Professional Bull Riders (PBR).  VERSUS also airs NASCAR, NBA, UFC, college football and college basketball programming.  The network is home to the best outdoor programming on television and airs original programs not available anywhere else, including The Daily Line, Sports Soup and Sports Jobs with Junior Seau.  VERSUS, a wholly owned company of Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA, CMCSK), is distributed via cable systems and satellite operators throughout the United States.

Hawks Ratings Finish at All-Time High

Chicago, IL (April 12, 2010) – Comcast SportsNet, the television home for the most games and most comprehensive coverage of the 2009-10 NHL Central Division champion Chicago Blackhawks, posted the highest Blackhawks final regular season average in the history of Chicago regional sports television — a 2.44 final household season average (over 85,400 households watching per game) — a 94% increase over last season’s 1.26 final average and a 287% increase from the final season average just two years ago (0.63).  In addition, Comcast SportsNet set an all-time regular season “single game” ratings record on SIX occasions this season with the latest record being a 4.35 household rating for a home game vs. Vancouver on March 5.

“This has been yet another amazing season for the Blackhawks and we’re looking forward to what promises to be a thrilling post-season run for this truly great NHL franchise,” said James J. Corno, President of Comcast SportsNet Chicago.  “We couldn’t be happier viewers tuned into our network for our comprehensive Blackhawks coverage all season long, which will continue throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs with our expert game, pre-game and post-game coverage on Comcast SportsNet and extensive coverage on CSNChicago.com.”

Comcast SportsNet also posted massive ratings increases in the key advertiser demo of Adults 25-54 this season with a 1.8 final average, a 125% increase compared to last season’s 0.8 average for this demo.  In addition, Comcast SportsNet scored a higher rating than last season’s single game/season high (2.13) a total of 33 times this season.

In addition to it Blackhawks game ratings success, Comcast SportsNet’s Chevy Blackhawks Pre-Game Live ratings increased 185% over last season, while Smirnoff Vodka Blackhawks Post Game Live ratings increased 102%.

Comcast SportsNet will begin its comprehensive coverage of the Blackhawks 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs run starting this Friday, April 16 as the Blackhawks host the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the opening round.  Coverage gets underway at 7:00 PM with Chevy Blackhawks Pre-Game Live with the opening face-off set for 7:30 PM.

Musical Predictions for Round One of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Part One: The Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

EDITOR’S NOTE: You guys know I’m not the world’s biggest numbers and analysis hockey guy.  That said, being a hockey site, it would be shammockery if I didn’t have a Stanley Cup Playoff preview.  So, let’s go Buccigross on this and break down each team and their matchup through song.  Tomorrow will be the West, but today will be… you guessed it, the East.  Bear with me.

Eastern Conference

Series A

#8 Montreal Canadiens

“This is quick, but not quite painless.
It sits perched on your arm.  Tacky and irrlevant (so what?)
Drag you out into the streets before you buckle at your knees”
-“What’s it Feel Like to be a Ghost?” by Taking Back Sunday

#1 Washington Capitals

“The enemy is everywhere
The enemy is everywhere
But no one seems to be worried or care
That the enemy is everywhere”
-“Titus Andronicus Forever” by Titus Andronicus

A year has gone by since the Montreal Canadiens were swept by the best team in the Eastern Conference, exposed as a shallow team with inconsistent scoring and little defense.  So, the offense was bulked up a bit with additions like Cammalieri, Gomez and Gionta and the result is… a date in the first round with the best team in the Eastern Conference featuring a team with inconsistent scoring and little defense.

Give the Habs some chance, Gomez comes out to shine in the postseason, even when he’s not playing for a contract.  Gionta can provide a little offense, and Tomas Plekanec can be dangerous.  Jaroslav Halak will steal the Habs a game in Washington.  I’m thinking Game 2, it’ll scare the Caps and their red-infused bandwagon to near tears.

But that’s when the gang will wake up.  Whoever is in goal will become competent once again, Ovechkin will go insane, Backstrom will stake his claim as the poor man’s Crosby to Ovie’s rich man’s Malkin.  Mike Green will stave off criticism about his defensive game, and the Canadiens will be one game better than last season.  Capitals in Five.

Series B

#7 Philadelphia Flyers

“It’s not as easy as willing it all to be right
Gotta’ be more than hoping it’s right.”
“Hands Open” by Snow Patrol

#2 New Jersey Devils

“I’m not the one to admit it’s helpless
I have a sense that we will be alright
I wish for peace with electric silence
To keep our hearts beating on our minds”
-“Young London” by Angels and Airwaves

Similar to Tom Delonge’s much-maligned emo-prog side project Angels and Airwaves, there’s no good reason to think that anyone should like an upset by the Philadelphia Flyers over the New Jersey Devils.  Sure, the teams are fairly well-matched on both offense and defense, but Brodeur over Boucher must be enough to get the Devils over the hump against a team that had to get to a skills competition just to make the playoffs, right?

Well, apparently wrong, as I’ve already heard people picking the Flyers as a first round upset, as the Devils untimely demise at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes is still seen as evidence that Jersey isn’t built to win it’s third postseason series since a Stanley Cup Win in 2003.  Plus, the Flyers kicked the Devils collective asses around in the regular season, and we all know how meaningful that is.

However, just like all three of Angels and Airwaves’ records, I’m simply not buying it.  Brodeur finished the regular season giving up seven goals in his final seven games.  Ilya Kovalchuk, acquired at the trade deadline, had 27 points in 27 games as a Devils and that was still seen as a bit of a disappointment to many fans.  Zach Parise didn’t have an offensive apocalypse under the supposed defensive systems of Jacques Lemaire, and Travis Zajac had a breakout season.

That’s not to say the Flyers aren’t a scary potential opponent.  Pronger seems to love to test Parise and rough him up a bit.  The Devs will need to find a way to combat the Flyers physicality and keep Daniel Carcillo from wreaking havoc on Kovalchuk, who’s only previous playoff series saw him fall victim to the Avery trap.

However, if the Devils can force the Flyers to take penalties and stay out of the box themselves, they should win this one with relative ease, at least compared to last season.  If you really see Brian Boucher beating Martin Brodeur four times, just remember that he couldn’t do that 10 years ago, when Boucher was considered a premiere goaltending prospect.  A decade later and close to a has-been, I don’t see it changing.  Devils in Six.

Series C

#6 Boston Bruins

“We’re not the same, dear, as we used to be.
The seasons have changed and so have we.
There was little we could say, and even less we could do
To stop the ice from getting thinner under me and you.”
-“The Ice is Getting Thinner” by Death Cab For Cutie

#3 Buffalo Sabres

“Baby, seasons change but people don’t
And I’ll always be waiting in the back room.
I’m boring but overcompensate
With headlines and flash, flash, flash photography
But don’t pretend you ever forget about me.”
-“The Take Over, The Breaks Over” by Fall Out Boy

What a strange change in identity the Boston Bruins have gone through.  They went from dynamic, exciting, lunchpailing rising stars in the Eastern Conference to… a Claude Julien coached team.  The trade for Phil Kessel may land the Bruins a player who will bring them back to the glory days (day?) of Kessel and the B’s being a dynamic goal-scoring club, but fact is they’re now pretty much a heavy defensive system team.  The only thing keeping them from being the Coyotes has been consistent goaltending, which seems to have come in the form of the unproven Tukka Rask.

That said, I’m still not buying the Sabres, who until the Olympics were just as anonymous, falling via an upset.  This appears to be the summer of Miller, and I think he plays as well in the playoffs as he did in the Olympics.  He might come up just short, but with guys like Vanek and Roy able to chip in a couple goals here and there, they certainly won’t be falling to Boston in Round 1.  Sabres in five.

Series D

#5 Ottawa Senators

“Well there is something I gotta say
There is a price you’re gonna pay
Try as hard as you can to stay
You’re just fading, and fading, and fading the fuck away.”
-“Not So Pretty Now” by Nine Inch Nails

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins

“I am heaven sent, don’t you dare forget.
I am all you ever wanted, what all the other boys all promised.”
-“Okay, I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t by Brand New

It might be hard to conceive, but I felt bad for Marc-Andre Fleury this February.  Ignored as a potential Olympic goaltender because of the former reputation of Martin Brodeur, and the imagined reputation of Roberto Luongo, I kind of secretly felt that Fleury should’ve been the guy giving it a go all along.  If he was good enough to backstop Sid and Geno to a championship, why not Team Canada?

That said, an essential two week break with a chance to hang out with a bunch of guys who’ve won it before couldn’t hurt the already Stanley Cup Champion Pens goalie, which I think will be enough to control a Sens team that, truth be told, is probably the team in the East I’ve seen the least this season.  I don’t know all that much about them, especially now with Alex Kovalev not going to be hanging around and showing up for maybe a second assist in game three.

That said, they have some guys that can score, and Certified Shot Blocking Machine Anton Volchenkov.  But what about the Sens is that much better than the team that succumbed to Pittsburgh two seasons ago in a sweep?  Other than a healthy Daniel Alfredsson, not much.  Penguins in four.

Tomorrow: Part two.