VERSUS To Air Tons of Studio Programming, Past All-Star Games Next Week

While VERSUS mentioned that they will be super-serving hockey fans with coverage of NHL All-Star Weekend as well as new technology to present it in, the network’s commitment to the sport will reach a new high, with extra re-runs of studio coverage and re-airings of the prior two All-Star celebrations.

It all begins on Thursday, January 28th, the final night of play before the All-Star break, when VERSUS airs a marathon of the 2008 All-Star Game from Atlanta and the 2009 All-Star Game from Montreal, beginning at 5:00 PM ET. This will be followed up by a new episode of NHL Overtime, in its’ regular 11:00 PM ET timeslot.

Friday night, as has been mentioned before, the network will air the first ever NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft live from 8:00-9:30 PM ET. It is unclear whether TSN or VERSUS is handling the original production. After the draft, VERSUS will re-air the show in it’s entirety, followed by an encore presentation of the 2009 All-Star Game at 11:00 PM ET.

Saturday has the All-Star Super-Skills competition, and VERSUS will have you completely covered. The network has a full day of sports action, with a Mountain West basketball game airing at 4:00 PM ET (BYU vs. New Mexico). At 7:00 PM ET, the NHL All-Star Superskills Competition airs live from Raleigh. VERSUS continues it’s sports night with PBR action at 9:30 PM ET, and the NBA D-League Slam Dunk/3-Point contest at Midnight ET.

Sunday afternoon, January 30th, VERSUS is live again for the big day. The 2010 NHL All-Star Game airs live on VERSUS at 4:00 PM ET. Usually in the past, VERSUS has used the All-Star Game to lead-in to a UFC event, but instead the network will merely air the Skills Competition after the game at 7:00 PM ET and a re-run of NHL Overtime at 9:30 PM ET.

Monday night, January 31st, while the NHL takes one more day off to get ready for the second half of the season (lazy!) VERSUS will get you caught up with the weekend if you had work and maybe missed all of it. The network will re-air the skills competition at 4:30 PM ET. This will be followed up by a re-run of NHL Overtime at 7:00 PM ET. The 58th NHL All-Star Game will re-air one more time at 8:00 PM ET, followed by a re-run of the Overtime from earlier in the night at 11:00 PM ET.

The NHL regular season finally returns to VERSUS on Tuesday, February 1st wil a double-header. Hockey Central airs at 7:00 PM ET to tee up Penguins/Rangers at 7:30 PM ET, followed up by Coyotes/Sharks at 10:00 PM ET. Hockey Central follows the game and serves as the lead-in for NHL Overtime in a special 1:00 AM ET slot. For a complete schedule, head after the jump.

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The Final Night of HockeyHighlightDome: Overtime vs. On the Fly

Monday morning, I’ll put all this stuff together and post my findings, if anything interesting shows up.

Night 8, Thursday, January 20

NHL Overtime, 11:00 PM ET, VERSUS

Host: A plot twist! We have ourselves a first-time host this evening, in VERSUS lead reporter Charissa Thompson. Nicely done on my final night of recapping these things, NHL Overtime.

Thompson was given a rough night by some things that were completely out of her control. The Flyers/Senators game was, according to her, supposed to begin with a flashback, but instead went straight into the highlights. Then, heading into the first commercial break, they had her read script or teleprompter that was clearly lifted from Monday, as it teased Panthers/Thrashers and Bruins/Hurricanes highlight. Thompson is certainly not at fault for this, and you have to wonder if someone was playing a prank on her for her first night on the show.

Analysts: Billy Jaffe and Aaron Ward are in tonight, thankfully giving me only one person to judge for the evening. Jaffe seems to think the song is called “Friday Night’s Alright For Fighting.” Also, nice Major League reference, Aaron Ward.

Lead Story: The Evgeni Nabakov signing was the right way to start of the show, as it was the first story talked about by the hodgepodge panel. I totally hope the Devils make the Red Wings give us Datsyuk for free in exchange for claiming Nabakov and putting him on waivers again. That’d be fun.

Lead Highlights: How about Tampa Bay/Atlanta? *checks standings* Yeah, let’s do Tampa Bay/Atlanta. I think this is the first time I can recall a Southeast Division game being picked at the top of the show, though I only really remember eight of them. Thank goodness for this league that the Southeast is now a better division than the Northeast. That was a threshold that needed to be cleared at some point.

Another interesting thing to note from the highlights is that VERSUS is able to get HD feeds of MSG or MSG Plus games, which NHL Network doesn’t.

Non-Highlight Footage: The Lightning’s dominance of the Thrashers so far this season, followed by an immediate look at the Southeast Division standings, which probably could’ve waited until after the Washington game that night before showing it, but I suppose it isn’t really a problem.

Following Flyers/Senators, we got the post-game presser with Chris Pronger, plus a break-down of a goal he assisted on, complete with fancy technological X’s and O’s. Their ability to do this with any game is a big win for me. This has probably been my favorite discovery of the show over the past two weeks.

Holy cow, is Jacques Lemaire a boring press conference when you show his against a bunch of others, including Bruce Boudreau’s for Capitals/Islanders (or John Tortorella for Rangers/Hurricanes). Also, both of these games got the teletouch treatment. Enough with the teletubby stuff, guys. There were some technical miscues with this as well, not a banner night technically.

Interviews: No time for that tonight.

Time Spent on Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin: Crosby and Malkin’s injuries were both a focal point of the Penguins/Devils highlight, and of course, Ovechkin’s performance was a big part of the Islanders/Capitals. They were also a feature in the nightly VERSUS.com poll. Overall, the worst two weeks to have focuses on attention paid to Crosby and Ovie.

Spreading the Love (West Coast Coverage): Only two of the 12 games in the NHL tonight went past VERSUS’ bedtime, didn’t see any Western Conference teams until 25 minutes in for the Detroit/St. Louis game.

Features: Ugh, finally we’ve reached an end with the Guardian Project! Also, we’re finally starting to get a look at classic All-Star moments in preparation for the upcoming All-Star Game.

Controversial Material: Again, no time!

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

Host: Good lord, we have another new voice in the host seat for these shows. Ken Reid is in the big chair tonight. I believe I’ve seen him before. He’s got a pleasant voice, and he’s totally into the gig and has a solid, crisp delivery. He might be my favorite host of the two weeks, and he’s only done this one show. Congratulations to him, I suppose, for the nonexistant honor.

Analysts: Thank you, Kevin Weekes, for your fourth straight night as analyst so I don’t have to do another write-up. Also, the man can wear a suit.

Lead Story: Avalanche forward¬†Tomas Fleischmann’s crazy-scary blood disorder that’s going to put him out for the rest of the season. Would love to have a legit doctor’s opinion on what you have to do to care of something like this. Good luck to him, because just hearing the title of that scared the hell out of me.

Lead Highlights: On cue, Predators/Avalanche is the top of the show, again narrated. I do like that NHL Network, unlike VERSUS, allows the host narrate the highlights instead of the analyst, and lets the analyst stick to, well … analyzing. It makes things much cleaner and steadier. Incidentally, Tampa/Atlanta didn’t get shown until 18 minutes into On the Fly.

Non-Highlight Footage: Examples of great first passes from the Predators/Avalanche blowout. I like that On the Fly will find itself some great, semi-obscure, relevant hockey play to dissect and break-down every night, it’s the type of thing that this show was legitimately made for.

Overall, this show had less emphasis on interviews and more emphasis on talking about obscure moments.

Interviews: Time is precious when there’s 12 games and extensive highlights to show on this program.

Time Spent on Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin: On the Fly also previewed the Pittsburgh/New Jersey game as having no Crosby and Malkin, and they also talked a bit about Ovie in the Caps/Isles game. I kind of wish I hadn’t picked this segment for the whole piece, but whatever.

Spreading the Love (West Coast Coverage): As I previously stated, NHL Net opened up with a Western Conference game in Nashville/Colorado, as opposed to VERSUS, which waited 25 minutes, though they did cover the Evgeni Nabakov story at the top of the show, which NHL Network waited 10 minutes to show, afterwards they got onto Red Wings/Blues highlights.

Features: Very little beyond the standard performer of the night and highlights of the night.

Controversial Material: They didn’t really get into it on the Nabakov signing like I wanted them to, but neither network did.