The Instigator Podcast 6.30 – The Vegas Juggernaut

After a little time off we’re back with a slightly different approach to a Cup Final preview. Given that game one went down the day before we recorded, simply offering up a preview would be dirty pool. So instead we opted to discuss just how difficult this Vegas team is going to be to knock off. While Tyler isn’t as confident as I am that Vegas is fated to win this series, we revisited their roster construction and just what’s working for them as they steam towards a championship. We also hit on the recent signings by the Sabres and how Lawrence Pilut, Victor Olofsson and Rasmus Asplund will affect the team’s pipeline this coming year.

NHL needs more network respect

Old people, an inevitably shitty sitcom and a two episodes of whichever Law & Order spinoff airs on Wednesdays. That is what will be appearing, nation-wide, on NBC tomorrow evening. Meanwhile, on NBC Sports Network, you can potentially watch the Los Angeles Kings end a franchise-long Stanley Cup drought with a series sweep of the New Jersey Devils.

Who wouldn’t want to watch an old people version of Punk’d?

In case, you haven’t heard, ratings for this year’s Cup Finals are down compared to the last few seasons. There are plenty of determining factors here. New Jersey has fallen behind fast, the Kings are a tough draw for anyone East of the Mississippi and the Devils are also far behind that of a team like Boston in terms of market share.  There has also been the arguments made for the lack of star power in the series. While that isn’t inaccurate, I don’t think it is a primary reason for the lack of attention. Think about it, the Bruins and Canucks don’t have any stars that register on a national level in the US either.While there isn’t one thing to blame, you could certainly point to the lack of access for those who do wish to watch the series. Starting on a weekday and then transitioning to the weekend opened a big game between games one and two and with games three and four being shown on NBC Sports Network, there isn’t much room for improvement.

One thing that isn’t different is the impact being made in the participating cities. While New Jersey has dwindled with their team, LA is building more steam as the Cup gets closer to their grasp. My argument that individual success in big markets is drumming up interest in the sport hasn’t changed. It is just the impact nationally that hasn’t improved this season. Perhaps if the NBC family realized that bumping a potential deciding game to a cable network only a fraction of the country has would be a major mistake. What is particularly pathetic is that the Finals will be pre-empted on the main network by yet another silly lineup of network shows.

After American Ninja Warrior and Grimm kept their slot on Monday, Off Their Rockers, Up All Night and a pair of Law & Order episodes will remain on NBC tomorrow evening while the potential clinching game of the Stanley Cup will be played on cable. It is no secret that the NHL still has a ways to go in order to reclaim part of the national spotlight, but things like this aren’t helping. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 1.12 – Golden Ticket

Eric and I are back in action with another Instigator Podcast. Before delving into our thoughts on the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals, we have a brief chat about the upcoming Sabres New Media Summit (aka the Basement Brigade Summit).

Of course, we play plus/minus with a special Stanley Cup Final spin and look forward to adding some guests to the program for some coming episodes, yet again.

Bruins capture Stanley Cup

The Boston Bruins went into Vancouver and skated all over the Canucks on their way to a 4-0 victory in game seven of the Stanley Cup Final.

After three dominating performances in Boston, the Bruins found a way to bottle their home game and bring it west. Aside from a few players, the Canucks came out flat and got average goaltending, yet again. The Bruins were good from top to bottom and received great goaltending from the slam-dunk Conn Smythe winner.

A lot of credit needs to be given to the Bruins for not only finding a way to steal a win on the road but roll up two stellar games in a row to flip the series in their favor. After Vancouver’s 1-0 win in game five the Canucks had all of the momentum. Unfortunately Roberto Luongo was bad in game six and bad again in game seven. The Bruins first goal was rather fluky but goals two and three needed to be saved. In fact, it looked to me like he gave up on Patrice Bergeron’s shorthanded goal. Continue reading

Game seven, who has the edge?

You have probably heard t at least twice today. “It is the game every young boy dreams of. Scoring the winning goal in overtime of game seven to win the Stanley Cup.”

If that isn’t said by Doc Emrick is some form tonight I would be happy to buy a Carolina Hurricanes championship hat. But I have faith that some facsimile of that statement will be utter by an NBC staffer on live TV this evening.

What I’m curious to see is how short of a leash is given to Roberto Luongo (LeBrongo if you wish). If the Bruins pot one or two in the first you have to think Corey Schneider will get tossed between the pipes quite quickly.

However, I don’t see t getting to that point. The Canucks rebounded for two horrible games in Boston for a big win in game five that was ripe with sound defensive hockey. The Nucks came out hitting that game and didn’t allow the Bruins to establish themselves. Expect to see that again tonight.

The Canucks will had the benefit of the last change and he ability to keep the Sedin’s away from Chara and Siedenberg while keeping Beiksa and Edler locked down on the Krejci line. They will also have their home fans behind them.

What will work against the Canucks is the ever tightening noose around their collective necks. They took hold of the series in game five but took too much rope as they headed to Boston for game six. They have just about hung themselves. Luongo is also not a safe bet, no matter how good he has been at home.

Meanwhile the Bruins have Tim Thomas and an angry attitude as they carry another blowout win into Vancouver. The one guarantee I can make you is that Thomas will win the Conn Smythe. Outside of Ryan Kesler blowing up for like 8 points, the trophy is going to belong to Thomas. The Bruins also have more healthy players and the sense that scoring the first goal will do the Canucks in.

I picked the Canucks to win this series and I felt really good about my pick after the first two games. However, I’m taking the Bruins to win tonight. They have imposed their will on the Canucks at TD Garden and, truthfully, they were two bounces away from winning games one and two. The fourth game is always the toughest to win, especially after the team on the brink is given new life. That is what has happened here. the Canucks let the Bruins back into the series and they will pay for it tonight. Just like in 1994, the Canucks fall in a seventh game.

Game six, will the ‘Nucks close it out?

If the first two games in Boston were any indication, it will be a chore for Vancouver to close out the Stanley Cup Final on the road. In fact, the first two games may make this an impossible game to win for the Canucks.

Looking at the situation there isn’t much of a difference. Vancouver recaptured the momentum in game five, their goalie found his swagger and the penalty kill regained form. Not to mention, the team stopped acting like a bunch of hormonal teenagers and just played hockey in game five. Boston returns home on their heels and in a must-win situation. Add to that their power play continues to be a bugaboo.

The only difference that lies in the weeds for game six is the mental factor. The Bruins have to play a flawless game in order to force a game seven. The Canucks also know they are one win away and 60 good minutes will grant them Lord Stanley’s Cup. All the players will say “we just have to forget about it and play our game” or “this is just another game, we just need to go out and win it.” That is all fine and dandy, but they are certainly thinking of what lies at the end of 60 minutes. How will it affect the game? I can’t say. I just know they are huffing grass if they haven’t started sweating a little about the prospect of this game. Continue reading