Doing some light reading, I ran into the NHL on NBC spotlight for this Sunday on NHL.com, which begged the question of which rivalry is the best in hockey?
Their top three came out to be Leafs-Canadiens, Bruins-Canadiens, and Flyers-Rangers (You think the NBC would miss such an easy opportunity to promote next weeks game?). But this is not why I am typing this up.
On the sidebar came this chart which showed the possibilities for the game of the week through the end of the season (click to enlarge):
I figured I would go through and attempt to predict which games NBC will pick along with some commentary.
- 2/22/09: Pittsburgh @ Washington.
With the only other possibility being the Avs/Canes, this is really a no-brainer.
- 3/8/09: Boston @ New York Rangers.
Although I'm sure NBC wouldn't mind more Crosby-loving, I don't think they'll go with the exact same game two weeks in a row. I think a close second could be Colorado @ Chicago, because in all honesty that might be a better game.
- 3/15/09: Detroit @ Columbus.
I'm going out on a limb here. NBC won't go with Philly @ NY again, I think. The Wings are arguably the most popular team in the league nation-wide, and Columbus is fighting hard for a playoff spot. The other option is Boston @ Pittsburgh, which I wouldn't be surprised if NBC went with, but I'm sticking with my original guess. They can go with Columbus because the time difference isn't that huge in terms of an east-coast broadcast.
- 3/22/09: New Jersey @ Boston (I guess...)
This pick will easily be the hardest for NBC. If they go with Philly @ Pitt, NBC stays in the same mold as always. The next option is New Jersey @ Boston; a little different matchup but this pick won't happen if on the previous Sunday NBC goes with Boston @ Pitt. And like I said previously, I don't think they will go with Pittsburgh two weeks in a row, so that axes this matchup.
This leaves Chicago @ L.A., a very interesting possibility. NBC is shying away from west-coasters because of the time difference, but in all honest if I had to pick a game from the three to watch, it would be this one.
- 4/5/09: Minnesota @ Detroit
Easily the most competitive option. The Wild will be fighting for a playoff spot, and Detoit will be in cruise mode. Other options are Pitt in Florida; which could be possible if the Panthers are on the brink of the playoffs, but this will also depend on which dates Pittsburgh is picked for previously. The final option is Atlanta @ Washington, which I don't think will happen.
- 4/12/09: New York Rangers @ Philadelphia
Another tough choice. The close second is Detroit in Chicago; which if NBC went with I wouldn't be shocked. They could play off the Winter Classic again but in all honesty both teams will be in cruise mode at this point before the playoffs. Meanwhile, my Rangers could be fighting for a playoff spot by now, and a game in Philly is always great because of the packed Wachovia Center. Sorry Boston @ NYI and St. Louis @ Colorado, but you won't cut it.
Conclusion: NBC will have some tough decisions.
This stretch will be tough on NBC. They have to decide if they want to broaden their horizons west, and if they do, they will have some good choices to choose from. They already backed out of a possible great game with Boston in San Jose, going with the currently playing Detroit in Pittsburgh.
But with so many good choices, even if NBC decides to keep staying east, they will still have some long nights trying to decide as so many matchups depend on previous matchups.
Hope your enjoying your Sunday.