How much do Doc Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire love them some playoff hockey?
Enough to Duck Tape their eyes open, travel more than 2,500 miles with little sleep and say they’ve called two conference final Game 7s in a 24-hour period before the Stanley Cup Final begins.
It starts with NBC’s NHL A-Team doing the New York Rangers-Tampa Bay Lightning Eastern Conference Game 7 on Friday night from Madison Square Garden on Friday night (5 p.m., NBCSN).
After that ends — and with endless overtime, of course, there’s no guarantees — the trio heads back to their hotel, presumably take a short nap, then catch a 6 a.m. flight out of Newark, N.J., headed for LAX. (Presumably, nothing would get them to Southern California any faster if they were pointed toward John Wayne Airport or even Burbank).
After a scheduled West Coast landing at 9:08 a.m. on Saturday — if all goes well — they will could catch an early-morning skate, go to their new hotel stop, change clothes, then call the Ducks-Chicago Blackhawks Western Conference Final Game 7 that night (5 p.m., Channel 4).
After that, it’s a red-eye out of LAX to their respective homes, at which point they’ll know where Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final begins on Wednesday.
As West Coast hockey viewers have come to expect, the NBC Sports’ plan usually suggests that any combination of play-by-play men like Dave Strader or Kenny Albert, with analysts such as Brian Engblom or Joe Micheletti, handle much of what’s in the Western Conference, while Emrick/Olczyk/McGuire do the East. Earlier in these playoffs, however, Emrick/Olczyk/McGuire were at the Ducks-Blackhawks’ Games 3 and 4 in Chicago — Olczyk’s hometown — while dancing back and forth between the Rangers-Lightning games.
But then again, as a reference point: Emrick/Olczyk/McGuire haven’t done a game at Anaheim’s Honda Center since Game 5 of the 2007 Stanley Cup Final. The Ducks won that game, 6-2, over Ottawa to claim the franchise’s only championship.
Meanwhile, it’s maybe time to break out the BINGO cards from a year ago and see where Emrick/Olczyk/McGuire get you in a real game of line changes. Albert could use the break in his schedule for some amusement anyway.
NBC Sports reports that, to this point, the Stanley Cup Playoffs on NBC Sports Live Extra are up 20 percent over last year in unique views and up 36 percent in minutes watched, averaging 48,000 uniques and 2.2 million minutes. Through 12 games, the NHL Conference Finals on Live Extra are up 43 percent in uniques and 65 percent in minutes watched, totaling 566,000 uniques and 53.5 million minutes watched.