The number for the Capitals-Canadiens is in, and the number is very good for TSN as yesterday's upset for the ages in Washington drew a record 2.8 million viewers. (A further 1.9 million watched on RDS in Quebec.) It marked the largest audience ever recorded for an NHL game on TSN. Tuesday's showdown between Detroit and Phoenix also put up a tidy 1.4 million for TSN. The consecutive games seven were a ratings bonanza unopposed by CBC - whose series all ended in six games or fewer.
Mother Corp. fires back
CBC won't be down for long. Montreal's shock upset of the Capitals (41 blocked shots) was great news for CBC - round two of the Stanley Cup playoffs will have the Canadian series playing on alternate nights. The Habs will try to add Sidney Crosby's scalp to that of Alex Ovechkin's tonight when they start in Pittsburgh on CBC at 7 p.m. (ET), called by Bob Cole and Garry Galley. After a game Sunday, the squads head to Montreal next Tuesday for two game - unless Habs fanatics torch the place beforehand.
Meanwhile, the Vancouver Canucks go looking for a little Charles Bronson revenge in Chicago starting tomorrow at 8 p.m. (ET), called by Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson. They have a second game at Chicago's U-Zoo (United Center) on Monday before going to Vancouver Wednesday for two games in Lotusland - unless Canucks fanatics torch the place beforehand.
TSN fills its boots with Yankee hockey. Last night's opener of the Detroit-San Jose series, called by Chris Cuthbert and Ray Ferraro, from the left coast got things under way for TSN , which also has the Boston-Philadelphia series starting tomorrow in Boston, called by Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire. TSN's best hope - as it was in round one - is that it gets longer series than CBC. Or fans in Montreal and Vancouver torch the joints.
Good work on TSN's coverage of Tuesday's Cap-itulation as McGuire established early that Washington was freelancing and disorganized in the face of Montreal's Sicilian defence. By the end of the contest, Washington had fulfilled R.J. Umberger's prediction of their demise - for which the Columbus player was savaged earlier. What no one on TSN was willing to say on Tuesday was why, after two straight postseason bombs, no one's asking if Bruce Boudreau's the right coach in D.C.?
Monday and Tuesday's showdowns also renewed the vexing protocol for announcers. Is it game sevens, as per Gord Miller of TSN? Or games seven - which we never heard? The proper answer, of course, is games seven, but it all sounds awkward. So let's all agree on seventh games. Wasn't that easy?
Kiss 'n' cry cam
We're not sure when it crept into NHL TV game production, but what's with the GM cam? You know the shot? The prying peek into the executive box to finds a team's GM looking like he's about to go postal if his team unravels below. Apparently, 20 players, three coaches, support staff and 20,000 fans aren't sufficient fodder for the game producer's palette. We now need shots of reluctant suits dodging the camera high in the rafters of the rink.
The shot was created for Toronto GM and all-around camera magnet Brian Burke, who has worked out an elaborate set of Actors Studio routines for the probing lens. The head held in sorrow. The "truculent" fist pump. The gobsmacked "Do we actually pay this stiff?" pushback from the desk. The tie-askew 1,000-mile stare.
While Burke is splendid in his role as distant diva, there is something furtive about spying on the rest of the poor sods as their professional lives implode before their scorched eyes. The nervous tics, the anxious "I'm not looking" peeks at the monitor as they wait for the producer to choose another shot. The mask of pain as the referees call your shutdown defenceman for delay of game with two minutes left in a tie. It's all palpably uncomfortable.
San Jose's Doug Wilson and Ottawa's Bryan Murray are perhaps the most pained executives in the crosshairs. Wilson, whose Sharks get the vapours every April, specializes in smouldering darkly as he sees himself frozen in the camera's pitiless stare. Murray, the cantankerous veteran, is the Luciano Pavarotti of lip flap, spewing unheard venom into an uncaring world. (Our favourite "suite cam" cameo had to be ex-con and ex-owner Bruce McNall gargling cocktail franks with Wayne Gretzky this past weekend in Los Angeles.)
We have laws to protect the vulnerable. We need one for these microbial men under their TV microscope. Even if it means less Burkie more of the time.