I, like most of you here on Bleacher Report, have watched a lot of professional sports on television in my lifetime.
While I tend to indulge in the NFL world only when the Pittsburgh Steelers are playing, and likewise with MLB and the Pirates, I watch as much hockey as I possibly can during each regular season, and even more so during the playoffs.
That being said, I can confidently state that the product which has been delivered by NBC during the opening week of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs is by far the most embarrassing, most unprofessional, overall lowest grade product to ever hit national television.
The Rangers took the Capitals to school during Game One and came out as the unlikely, and unsuspected victors. Henrik Lundqvist made more saves than an 25 year Emergency Room veteran.
So, one would think that NBC would offer up some praise for the Rangers, who salvaged their playoff hopes during the final weeks of the regular season and defeated the third seeded Capitals in commanding fashion, right?
Wrong. Pierre Maguire, Mike Milbury, Doc Emrick, and Eddie Oljoke followed their regular season game plan of holding a two-and-a-half hour circle jerk for Alexander Ovechkin.
Game Two of the series saw another Ranger victory, and even more ignorance of the Rangers' solid team effort in favor of the Big Russian Machine or whatever Ovechjoke refers to himself as.
Alright so jobbing the Rangers is one thing, but how would things turn out when the NHL's leading scorer and his "poster boy of the league" teammate hit the ice on Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia?
Even worse is the answer I'm looking for.
Evgeni Malkin potted two goals and kept the Penguins' hope of a three game advantage in the series alive until virtually the final two minutes of regulation.
The Flyers outplayed the Penguins, plain and simple.
If I were a Flyers' fan, the next 12 paragraphs would be about how the officiating was extremely one-sided and the Flyers got all the calls in the game because they were on their home ice, but I'm not, so let me reiterate, the Penguins were outplayed, and beaten by a team who turned in a better overall effort.
The Flyers are not back in the series. They are still down two games to one. A win on Tuesday night ensures that they are "back in the series", so until that happens, the Pens are still in control.
That being said, how did NBC's all-star cast respond?
By simply mentioning that Geno led the league in scoring during the regular season and is a shoe-in finalist for the Hart Trophy? Nope.
Instead, Pierre Maguire led a collaborative 60 minute "Mike Richards is God" session.
Now before you jump the gun and claim that I am so blindly biased toward the Penguins that I refuse to acknowledge talented players outside of Pittsburgh, let me state that Mike Richards is a hell of a hockey player.
The fact that a solid home-ice performance in a virtually must-win game for Philadelphia completely overshadowed everything that the Penguins did right during the game, and in the previous two, was embarrassing.
Furthermore, if Mike Emrick is a Hall-of-Fame broadcaster, Stevie Wonder painted the Mona Lisa.
If you are a sports fan with a newly-acquired taste for professional hockey and tuned in to NBC for the game today, I feel sorry for you, because you will likely never watch another NHL game when Mike Emrick is in the booth. Or at least you won't watch it with the sound on.
Eddie Olcyzk's "analysis" fails to ever extend beyond pointing out the obvious and offers little to no insight into the rules of hockey, or even what is happening on the ice. I'd say Edzo should have stuck with coaching, but we all know how that career choice turned out.
If you look up "goon" in the dictionary, a photograph of Mike Milbury is likely printed directly following Arron Asham.
The NBC crew spends more time offering their respective opinions about how they would coach, officiate, or play the game than they do actually announcing it, which, at least I'm pretty sure, is a fairly large part of their job description.
Kimmo Timonen would be a top-four defenseman on any roster in the National Hockey League. The fact that he averages somewhere in the ballpark of 27 to 28 minutes of ice time per game means nothing more than that his coaching staff trusts him in virtually all situations.
Emrick took the liberty of reminding viewers of Timonen's average time on ice roughly five times during the course of this afternoon's game. Why?
Mike Richards is obviously regarded as the best hockey player in the world by the NBC crew. He is praised for "working hard on every shift, back checking, killing penalties, playing the power play, and being a great leader."
You can find a player on every roster in the NHL who does the same things on a nightly basis, but 29 other teams cease to exist during an NBC broadcast.
Maguire developed a hefty hemorrhoid sometime during the second period, when, after a commercial break, Pierre ranted for 45 seconds about Mike Richards talking to his teammates and drinking water on the bench during the television timeout.
Malkin scored his second goal of the game, but Richards just re-laced his skates in seven seconds on the bench. See where I'm going with this.
Now, I could cite various other examples from today's game, the Caps-Rangers game, or every other game broadcast by NBC this season, but I think you get the point.
NBC recently prevented the Pittsburgh Penguins from showing Game Three on their outdoor jumbo screen, located outside of the Mellon Arena, because they were obviously worried about their ratings.
The strange this is, the screen was in full operation throughout the duration of the Penguins' 2008 Stanley Cup playoff run.
Attendance averages between one and two thousand people.
Apparently those 2,000 people who wouldn't be tuning in to NBC in their own homes to watch the game would have been too big a blow to the ratings to allow the Penguins to air the game on the outdoor screen.
If NBC is worried about its ratings, maybe they should consider their lead announcer's "rebel yell" style of broadcasting, their color analysts lack on intellect, and their between the benches guy's obvious bias toward whichever team has and advantage on the scoreboard, or Alex Ovechkin on its roster.
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