Both New York and Los Angeles host big Game 7s on Saturday night. On the West Coast, the NBA's LA Lakers and Denver Nuggets will go the distance at the Staples Center. On the East Coast, the New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals will face off for the right to play the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Final.
No doubt, with the Lakers involved, conventional wisdom says that that's the hottest Saturday ticket on the schedule. But, as it turns out, that's not actually the case. Judging from the online resale market, New York/Washington is far and away tomorrow's marquee event. From USA Today:
Tickets for Rangers-Caps are averaging $462 vs. $225 for Lakers-Nuggets, according to Joellen Ferrer of StubHub. The online ticket service is seeing 10 times the sales volume for Rangers-Caps as Lakers-Nuggets, she adds.
So what's making the Rangers/Capitals showdown the hotter ticket? Braden Holtby prom hopefuls? The rise of Jay Beagle? Maybe it's all that sexy, sexy shot-blocking?
Here are 5 things that might be giving the NHL's Game 7 the edge:
1) Star power
Not to take anything away from Kobe Bryant, but he's the only real star here in a Lakers/Nuggets matchup; the opponents bring very few recognizable names to the table. Seriously, name a player on the Denver Nuggets. If you can't do it, don't feel bad -- I assure you that basketball fans struggle just as much. And if you said Javale McGee, um, wow.
The Rangers' opponents, on the other hand, have this Alex Ovechkin guy. You've probably heard of him, since he's one of recognizable hockey names in the world. He can draw a crowd, and the fact that he'll be in the visitors' locker room for this game is going to drum up some additional interest.
2) The live experience
You hear it all the time, but for all its knocks about the television experience, most Americans will tell you that hockey is incredible live. If this were just about TV viewers, the NBA probably takes the title in a walk, but we're talking about the in-arena experience. If you have an opportunity to attend a hockey Game 7, you have to take it.
3) Madison Square Garden
More than just the live experience, the MSG experience factors in here. Let's be clear: as nice as the Staples Centre is, it's no Madison Square. Seeing a Game 7 at the Staples Centre is one thing; seeing a Game 7 at MSG is something you remember forever. The world's most famous arena is a draw all on its own, and the fact that the event inside of it Saturday has some serious marketability is the cherry on top.
The distance between Toronto and New York is about 8 hours by car, which is completely manageable since the game's on a Saturday and there's no need to rush back for work the next morning. The opportunity for Canadian fans to see a rare Game 7 at Madison Square Garden is there, and we all know how easily swayed Canadians are by the promise of hockey history. They'll pay through the teeth to witness it, and that may be factoring into the high resale volume.
5) Hungrier Market
And finally, speaking of rarity, the Lakers are a massive draw, to be certain, but they're in contention a lot more often than the Rangers. They've won 5 of the last 12 NBA titles. Kobe Bryant has played in five Game 7s in his career, and 3 at home, the most recent being the final game of the 2010 NBA Finals, a home court win over the Boston Celtics. The Lakers also hosted Game 7s in 2009 and 2006.
The Rangers, on the other hand, are in territory that hasn't been charted in a long time. They haven't won a Cup since 1994, and they've played just one Game 7 at home in the last 17 years, and it was two weeks ago. This isn't just a big game. It's an exceptionally rare big game, and the novelty factor tends to jack up the price.