HockeyHighlightDome, Night 7: Overtime vs. On the Fly

Night 7, Wednesday, January 19

NHL Overtime, 11:00 PM ET, VERSUS

Host: Liam McHugh in the house for the second time this week, and I believe the fourth or fifth time during this period. Though I like McHugh, he did make a key mistake when he called the original trade that sent Jamie Langenbrunner to the Devils from Dallas with Joe Nieuwendyk as happening “in the 90’s.” The trade occurred closer to the 2003 trade deadline, as both players were crucial in New Jersey winning their third Stanley Cup. I remember because I was a 14-year old in Northern New Jersey, but maybe someone should’ve told McHugh.

Analysts: Oh snap, VERSUS brought in the heavy hitters last night. It’s Eddie Olczyk, Mike Milbury and Billy Jaffe. This means a 125% increase in the chances of someone saying something embarrassing and/or insightful. Our money’s on the former. Clearly VERSUS knew they’d need a lot of stuff to fill an hour, so we’ve got three of the talkiest talking heads in hockey.

Lead Story: With three games this evening, and three stinkers in either match-up or result, it’s going to be tough to fill this hour for both shows tonight. They opened talking about Evgeni Malkin’s injury, Daniel Briere’s addition to the All-Star Game, and Brandon Dubinsky’s injury status and the Rangers suffering from an injury bug.

Lead Highlights: We then saw the very pointed John Tortorella speech from Sunday leading into the Rangers whitewashing of the Maple Leafs. Totally the right choice to go with among the three scheduled tilts. Though I find it interesting that in a show with an hour to fill, they skipped from goal 1 to goal 4 of a 7-0 victory, and barely even highlighted the four-goal performance by Marian Gaborik in the initial highlights package. They only showed two of the goals he scored in this package, in fact. I found this extremely strange.

Non-Highlight Footage: This lead into a feature on blocked shots and defense in the game. This was even stranger. A guy scored four goals! Maybe talk about that a little bit! Then they talked about some of the Leafs problems as well as Artem Anisimov’s performance. He had four assists. Marian Gaborik had four goals! In a response to his coach calling him out! That’s mildly interesting! Talk about it. They only showed his first and third goals in the main highlights. I’m just sort of curious as to how that was all prepared. They then discussed the Leafs potential trading options. This was good, but … TALK ABOUT GABORIK!

Anyway, in non-Gaborik news, Columbus-Florida got the video board treatment, which saw Jaffe back in his familiar spot.

Interviews: Jamie Langenbrunner sat in for the weekly “5-minute major” on the show with reporter Lindsay Soto. The open of which featured a reference to the classic television series Dallas. Or something. I don’t know. It was an good interview, at least. Probably the first time he’s been interviewed at length in the past year without mentioning the Olympics.

Time Spent on Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin: Neither played tonight yet again, so we didn’t hear much, we occasionally saw the Crosby hits from Steckel and Hedman. Crosby and Ovechkin were both in the night’s VERSUS.com poll.

Spreading the Love (West Coast Coverage): Only one game aired late, and that was a 9:30 PM ET start in Calgary, so all the games should have been close to ending by VERSUS’ Midnight end time. Columbus’ game was in the early part of the show, but most of this thing was Eastern Conference-heavy tonight. After Columbus/Florida highlights, they had a discussion of the Eastern Conference playoff race. I’m so excited that it’s nearing that time again.

Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller was a part of a discussion of how many games goaltenders should play if they want to win the Stanley Cup. They eventually got to the Flames/Wild highlights and discussed all the problems in Calgary. Not a banner night for Canadian clubs.

Features: An “Insiders Roundtable” was promoted from the top of the show, and it definitely lived up to it’s name. The estimable Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record, Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe and Jeff Z. Klein of the New York Times are as good as it gets as far as east-coast based hockey reporters. Also, cool to see a different part of the VERSUS set.

The topics discussed were hits to the head, penalty shot/shootout rules (Dupont’s dissension on the shootout was one of the first time I’ve seen it on national TV) and coaches on the hot seat. All three writers brought something to the table, were reasonable in their discussion, and all extremely informative. It was like an American version of CBC’s weekly Hotstove, only without the blowhard arguing. Equal to the Darren Dreger segments on NHL Network.

So of course, Mike Milbury proceeded to criticize doing the segment in general. Sometimes, Mad Mike. Sometimes …

Oh, and the Guardian Project. Sigh. McHugh can barely hide his contempt, and neither can the analysts.

Controversial Material: Mike Milbury had a segment dedicated to the recent rash of hits to the head, where he basically had the position of “In my day hits to the head were different and cats were friendlier and milk cost a nickel a gallon!”

Milbury also called for the ref in the Columbus/Florida game to be fined for an Overtime penalty. Not sure if he was serious or not, but he was certainly up in arms about it.

NHL On the Fly, 1:00 AM ET, NHL Network

Host: Brian Duff’s in for the first time this week.

Analysts: Kevin Weekes for the third straight night, and Mike Johnson checks in for the first time this week.

Lead Story/Highlights: Narrated highlights of Marian Gaborik and the Rangers vs. the Leafs. Again, I don’t like the narrated highlights on On the Fly but at least they showed every one of Gaborik’s goals, and then talked about him properly. Also, cool of them to completely knock Jonas Gustavsson for that awful goal. Just, let’s thank goodness that I’m not crazy and it wasn’t ignored by both networks.

Also, it was another night where NHL Network essentially hit re-set on the show at the halfway point. This was actually just a half-hour show.

Non-Highlight Footage: Immediately they went into a discussion of the Rangers injury troubles, including Dubinsky being out. Boy, when you line ’em up like that, it’s a miracle the Rangers can ice a team. They then discussed how Gaborik got all four of his goals, which is something that VERSUS should have definitely covered a little bit more. I’m baffled that he got so little attention for such a great accomplish. I know that it’s not the five-goal game he had a few years ago, but still, worth mentioning a little more. They then trashed the Leafs awful team defense.

Interviews: None tonight.

Time Spent on Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin: Again, there is little to be discussed with neither in action last night.

Spreading the Love (West Coast Coverage): Columbus/Florida and Calgary/Minnesota showed up a little bit earlier in the highlights package than on Overtime, as by the time they got to showing Flames/Wild on On the Fly, VERSUS was still discussing Rangers/Leafs.

Features/Controversial Material: Darren Dreger was in to discuss any controversy concerning Jarome Iginla’s wishing out of the NHL All-Star Game for a reasonable purpose. He also discussed something VERSUS didn’t have a chance to talk about and didn’t on Wednesday either, the Ales Hemsky concussion from last night. Head shots in general remain a topic of discussion for any insiders. Boy, this seems like it’s all going to rear its’ nasty head sometime very, very soon. Also, that Coaches Challenges will be on the GM Meetings agenda.

Dreger had a second consecutive segment, discussing trade rumors with regards to the Ottawa Senators, Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues.

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