Last night the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the (my) Nashville Predators 5-3 in Game 1 of the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals in one of the most bizarre hockey games I've ever seen. The Penguins were dominated defensively, only registering 12 shots on goal, but 5 of them went in (one was an empty netter) to take Game 1. Pekka Rinne had a lacrosse goalie performance allowing 4 goals on 11 shots for a .636 save percentage.
This pretty much sums up Game 1 for the Predators.
P.K. Subban of the Preds looked to have scored the opening goal of the Finals only to have it called back on suspect at best offside call.
The game was scoreless until late in the 1st when Pittsburgh scored two goals of their own just over a minute apart from each other.
The Pens ended the 1st period with a 3rd score aided by a Preds own goal to take a 3-0 lead going into the 2nd period.
Yet despite their shaky play early it was the Predators who were dominating the game, they only scored once in the 2nd period.
Nashville held Pittsburgh without a shot on goal for the entire 2nd and most of the 3rd. Eventually the Preds would tie the game at 3-3.
During the entire comeback Smashville did not allow Pittsburgh to register a single shot on goal, so of course after a shotless 37 minutes, there first in over half a game results in this:
Pens would end up adding in an empty netter to win 5-3.
I'm biased because I hate Pittsburgh sports and have grown to love (as a friend) the Preds during this Cinderella run, but even though it wasn't the result I wanted as a "fan" it was still an incredible hockey game. I used to love the NHL but kind of fell out of love until the playoffs this year. I've been trying to get back into the sport, because it is a great sport, especially in the postseason. They should call the Stanley Cup Playoffs Tina Turner because they're simply the best. That game got me reaaally excited for the rest of this series.
However the NHL for some reason airs two games of the Stanley Cup Final every year on NBCSN. It has been something I've hated for a very long time.
Now I don't know the whole contract situation going on so there could be a very simple explanation to this, but as a fan, and more importantly, as a casual fan of hockey the idea to have multiple games of the Stanley Cup Final on NBCSN is idiotic to me. I mean it's the Stanley Cup Finals, it deserves better treatment than the relegation to cable tv. Could you imagine if the World Series had two games on Fox Sports or the if the NBA Finals were on NBA TV? No you couldn't because like me you have a brain and realize that is stupid for the exposure of the sport.
Hockey is miles away from the other three major pro sports in North America in terms of popularity, so you'd think they'd want to do everything possible to gain more viewers and try to grow the game, right?
Instead two games of the Stanley Cup Finals are on NBCSN. NBC sports net formerly known as Versus. Granted, it's not as obscure of a channel is it once was, the vast majority of households in the U.S. that pay for TV get NBCSN, 70.1% according to wikipedia, but 100% of TVs in America get NBC.
I'd bet that a whole bunch of people don't even know they have NBCSN. Like there's a 0.0001% chance my dad knows we have NBCSN. It's just kind of hidden to the average person. Like you probably have the Smithsonian network too and never realized. Obviously hockey diehards know all about the network, but to a casual fan just scrolling through the channels I feel like NBC is much more likely to get turned on accidently.
The ratings have shown that being on NBCSN hurts the game. It's simply available to less people. This isn't exactly rocket science. In the 2013 Stanley Cup Final games 2 and 3 were on NBCSN, both had over 2 million less viewers than 3 out of the 4 games broadcasted on NBC. In 2014 game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final was on NBC and had 6.4 million viewers, when the series switched to NBCSN for games 3 and 4 the ratings dropped to 2.9 million and 3.4 million respectively, before getting 8.0 million on NBC for game 5 when the Kings won the Stanley Cup in double OT. In 2015 games 3 and 4 had over a million fewer viewers than the lowest NBC game. Game 2 to 3 saw a 2.7 million viewer drop alone. I could keep giving you stats but I think you see the point.
As a casual hockey fan, who actually cares about the future of the NHL as a whole, I just don't understand for the life of me why they'd broadcast two games of what is supposed to be biggest broadcast of the league's top talent on NBCSN. How much better can the ratings of some crappy summer replacement show or reruns be than the fucking Stanley Cup Finals? I just don't understand how this is good for the game, to have what should be it's biggest event of the year on cable where they're missing out on potentially millions of viewers and new fans.