Ah, Hockey Day in America. Nine hours of hockey on TV if you get all the right channels.
"What better way for a hockey-loving American such as myself to celebrate just how great this great game is? And how lucky! NBC is broadcasting three different games at noon," thought I.
Of course, I was not foolish enough to think that I would have access to the timeslot's, and indeed the day's, best game. I had earlier in the week seen the broadcast map and come to understand that I, living in the Northeast, would be forced to sit through a Buffalo Sabres game, and not the Sharks/Red Wings game that I, and any other sane person, would have preferred.
But hey, this surely isn't the first time the nationally-broadcast game was not to my viewing pleasure. That is among the chief reasons I happily plunk down the $20 a month to get GameCenter Live all season long and, prior to this year, had taken to ordering Center Ice from my cable company.
But as it turned out, that wasn't an option today.
(Coming Up: Rick Nash on Rangers talk; Derek Dorsett survives John Scott; Selanne is a god; sad news from the Pronger camp; beer drinkin' Hal Gill fits right in Nashville; JS Giguere could move; the Bruins seek help up front; marathon for Shawn Thornton and Matt Kassian; stats let Malhotra; Marc-Edouard Vlasic sacrifices the body; Kubina to the Flyers; and the Central Division gives St. Louis the Blues.)
No, the Hockey Day in America broadcasts, regardless of what you were being shown in your area, were being blacked out on both GameCenter Live and Center Ice, and users were being directed to watch the games being streamed live on NBC Sports' website instead.
Which was dumb, but fair enough, I figured. The League and NBC are trying to promote their new decade-long partnership and this was an irritating if understandable way to more readily associate "NHL Hockey" with "NBC Sports" in the minds of viewers. No one wants to sit in front of their computers like idiots watching a game on a 21-inch screen or whatever it is when they have a perfectly good 47-inch HDTV, but whatever.
So I did what I had to do: I went to the NBC Sports website, clicked on the link that said "Watch San Jose/Detroit," waited through an unskippable ad and then through about 30 seconds of loading.
Now, it should be pointed out for those of you who don't have GameCenter Live, that when using it on your computer, the feed loads more or less instantaneously, contains no ads apart from those during commercial breaks and intermissions.
But again, I get it.
And after all that, I was rewarded with a horribly unclear, low-definition picture that makes your grandparents' SDTVs look state of the art. You've seen clearer footage of Bigfoot. The feed also frequently froze and buffered and jumped ahead several seconds. But the good news was that all the ads during TV timeouts came in crystal clear and didn't stop to buffer once.
Some naysayers pointed out that this is the kind of thing Major League Baseball and the National Football League do all the time, but the NHL isn't in the position to piss off or even slightly inconvenience the fans it has that would actually care enough to seek out another team's games.
Making them jump through hoops to watch unwatchably bad feeds — which, again, were miles behind the extremely high quality presented by GameCenter Live — seems quite counterintuitive.
And again, I know full well this was the NHL getting marching orders from NBC and not the other way around; but if the League is as out-in-front in giving the fans as much content about the sport as they love to say they are, then this was an egregious misstep, but not an uncharacteristic one. The League has long taken the opportunity to make a quick buck by doing something it knows will annoy the diehards, because it knows the diehards aren't going anywhere. They already got your Center Ice or GameCenter Live money, what do they give a rat's ass if you're put out by having to watch Blackhawks/Blues or Sabres/Penguins instead of Red Wings/Sharks?
What does it care if you don't watch NBC's crap feed online instead?
It, of course, doesn't.
The naysayers also pointed out this was ONE day out of the NHL schedule, which is perfectly true. Except that this "one day" was Hockey Day. In America. As in, the day the whole country should have been able to watch itself stupid on hockey hockey hockey.
Some of them didn't get to, and that's pretty stupid.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: Here's Teemu Selanne scoring his 20th goal of the season. He's now the oldest player since 1976-77 to hit that mark. What a legend.
Boston Bruins: The Bruins are actively shopping for a forward. But hey, when was the last time Peter Chiarelli made a huge deadline acquisition? The biggest ever was probably Dennis Seidenberg, who came with another player, for Craig Weller, Byron Bitz and a second-round pick. So guess what: He's not breaking the bank.
Buffalo Sabres: The good news is Time Warner subscribers in New York get to watch Sabres games again. The bad news is they Sabres are the Sabres.
Calgary Flames: Oh my, the Calgary Flames currently occupy a playoff spot in the West, capping a run of 5-0-3 in their last eight games, if you can believe it. And that's with six players, most of them major contributors, on the shelf.
Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes are currently in the middle of an eight-game stretch in which they play at home seven times and got it off on the right foot by beating San Jose with… Justin Peters in net? Peters made 35 saves in picking up the win.
Chicago Blackhawks: What a beauty pass by Patrick Kane. Trade that guy for Ryan Miller immediately!
Colorado Avalanche: The Avs might be willing to move currently-injured JS Giguere at the deadline, but seem likely to re-sign Shane O'Brien in the offseason. Judicious moves both, don't you think?
Columbus Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets have given up eight goals to Viktor Stalberg alone in just five games. That accounts for half of Stalberg's scoring this year, but his most recent performance against them was a mere one-goal effort (in a 6-1 loss but who's counting?).
Dallas Stars: Dallas keeps on bothering their fans by not being able to figure out whether they're good enough to make the playoffs. But I don't know, I think winning just two of the last seven and five of the last 16 is a pretty clear indicator.
Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers' power play is, like the Oilers, quite bad of late. Sure, it's fourth in the league overall, but hadn't scored in three games (against the Sens, Leafs, and Avs) ahead of last night's game with Vancouver. "[A]gainst the top teams, we seem to be more patient," said Oilers associate coach Ralph Krueger. "We seem to be in a bit of a rush against teams we feel we're equal to." Sens, Leafs and Avs fans will be devastated to hear that they are "equal to" the Oilers.
Florida Panthers: The Panthers' regulation loss Friday night was their first all season when they entered the third period with a lead, having gone 16-0-4 in their previous 20. But hey it was only to Washington and it's not like those guys are competing with you for the division lead or anything.
Los Angeles Kings: The Kings lost 1-0 to Calgary on Saturday, their second consecutive 1-0 loss. Jonathan Quick has 16 regulation losses this season, and the team in front of him has scored just 16 goals in those games. "Hello, Scott Howson? It's Dean Lombardi…"
Minnesota Wild: Bit of a marathon throwdown here between Shawn Thornton and Brad Staubitz Matt Kassian. Can you think of a fight that lasted longer this season?
Montreal Canadiens: Reading articles like this, you get the feeling the Montreal media is now literally scraping their laptops against the floor in the press box to sharpen them into shivs they can jam into Pierre Gauthier's ribs. Start duct taping telephone books under the game-day suit, bud.
Nashville Predators: Think they're trying to ingratiate Hal Gill to the locals? "His favorite pastime is grilling food while drinking a few beers. He listens to country music and classic rock. He has a wife and three young children." Know what's going to do it better than havin' a couple pops while cooking a steak? His play on the penalty kill.
New Jersey Devils: Nick Palmieri spent some time after practice with Cam Janssen and Eric Boulton, learning about fighting. Those boys are a bad influence. Next thing you know, he'll be smoking cigarettes and playing hooky.
New York Islanders: I guess this Tavares kid is alright. Poor Jaro Spacek didn't know whether he was coming or going on that one.
New York Rangers: As buzzards circle Rick Nash with questions about whether he would come to the Rangers, the Rangers, the Rangers, Rangers or Rangers, the big forward offered a series of non-answers and everyone grumbled about it. But seriously is he gonna come to the Rangers or what here?
Ottawa Senators: The Senators will be given more time off in the coming weeks because, for some weird reason, they've already played 60 games compared with most other teams' 57 or 58. They play another four games this week, but only two the week following.
Philadelphia Flyers: Another Chris Pronger update, another article where you will just feel terrible for him. Concussions are the worst.
Phoenix Coyotes: The Coyotes had an Alice Cooper bobblehead night on Saturday and it went over huge. Pretty shameless of Phoenix, though. What a transparent effort to convince him and some of his billion dollar babies to buy the team.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Glad someone is saying it: Giving $5 million a year for the next six after one good NHL season seems like an awful big gamble, doesn't it? Really like him as a player but yeesh.
San Jose Sharks: Marc-Edouard Vlasic took a shot in the face against Detroit but didn't need to go to the hospital and actually traveled with the team to Columbus. Meanwhile, Joe Pavelski blocked a Nick Lidstrom slapshot with his head and returned to the game. Sharks players: Brave but not especially bright, apparently.
St. Louis Blues: St. Louis got beat up pretty good by Chicago yesterday, dropping them to just 0-6-1 in their last seven against opponents in the Central Division. They only have nine more such games this season.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Pavel Kubina was finally shipped to Philadelphia, and he was quite sad about it. A full 10 of his 14 NHL seasons were spent with the Bolts.
Toronto Maple Leafs: I'm sure there's a good reason people are, like, shocked that the Leafs got drilled by Vancouver on the road, but I cannot for the life of me figure out what it could be.
Vancouver Canucks: Manny Malhotra gets a lot of zone starts in his own end: 87 percent of his faceoffs are taken there. Bananas.
Washington Capitals: Here's another team with power play problems. Of course, the reason here is that Nicklas Backstrom is missing, and has been for 20 games. They've scored just eight power plays in 55 chances (14.5 percent) in that stretch.
Winnipeg Jets: The Jets beat the slumping Bruins so a bunch of them chose not to participate in an optional practice. Only Eric Fehr, Nik Antropov, and Mark Flood skated.
Gold Star Award
Gotta love Derek Dorsett trying to get tough with John Scott, a man to whom he gives up eight inches and SEVENTY-EIGHT pounds. How adorable.
Minus of the Weekend
Manny Malhotra must not be effective at five-on-five if he's a minus-10 this season, writes Elliot Pap, he of the apropos surname. Give Cody Hodgson his job! (And then watch Cody Hodgson immediately become a minus-10 billion.)
Play of the Weekend
As of last night, Calgary officially had a 53 percent chance to make the playoffs, which is hard to believe. But what's the reason? It's this man:
Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week
User "19canuck90" is doing great work.
Van 3rd 2012
Van 2nd 2013
I need you to know what you want to do.
- Buffalo Sabres