Editor's note: The story has been updated with Canadian announcers and some American announcers for the second round.
We started with 5 Canadian teams in 5 different series. Hoping for 3 teams to advance, but will settle for 2. Every team but Calgary had a 2-1 edge in their series. To only get 2 of the 4 teams is disappointing. Ottawa and Edmonton went 2-1 after this point while Montréal and Toronto lost their last 3 games of their series.
The first round produced a record 18 overtime games. The Canadian teams went 7-7. The breakdown went like this: Montréal 1-1; Ottawa 3-1; Toronto 2-3; Edmonton 1-1; Calgary 0-1.
Playoff inexperience played a factor in some of the struggles. Edmonton and Toronto had very little experience but played stronger than Montréal. Ottawa might have had the toughest fight of them all and played virtually brilliant hockey.
"Very upset. We had a great opportunity to do something this year. It feels like a wasted effort." — Max Pacioretty
Montréal fans agree with Pacioretty's assessment. The Habs continued their unofficial tradition of not scoring in the playoffs. Then again, Pacioretty didn't have a single goal in the series.
The team can score on occasion in the regular season, but has struggled considerably. At the trade deadline, the Canadiens bulked up. Shea Weber for P.K. Subban was designed to bulk up. As we have seen with Toronto and Edmonton, speed rules. And the Habs are slower than they were 12 months ago. The New York Rangers had bulk and speed and advanced to the second round for the 5th time in the last 6 seasons. The Montréal Canadiens won at least 1 playoff series from 1984-1993. The only time since that the Habs have done so was 2014 and 2015, both with Subban. Even if those ugly uniforms, Subban is still in the playoffs. Weber and the Canadiens are out of the playoffs.
Toronto should be proud of its effort, but needs to learn the lessons of this series. Maple Leafs fans would have wanted the team to learn some more lessons against Pittsburgh. Calgary might have had a better chance against San Jose or Chicago, but the Flames need to figure out how to beat whichever team they meet in the playoffs.
We feared that USA would not show the anthems in Montréal for Game 5. Unfortunately, we were correct. The Bell Centre is electric before a game. Ginette Reno sends chills with doing O Canada. We did get this nice skyline shot of Quebec's largest city before the game.
This isn't some random game in a random place: this is the Stanley Cup playoffs in Montreal.
We're told CNBC can't cover certain nights because of Shark Tank reruns. Ironically, Shark Tank features Conservative Party leadership candidate Kevin O'Leary. When playoff games appear on CNBC, there is a certain reverence for pageantry. Just not on USA.
NBC covered the anthems over the weekend, though that was at Madison Square Garden and Boston.
NBC Universal owns a lot of channels. Either move the games from USA or change the policy on that channel. This is outright disrespectful.
NBC assigned the #1 crew of "Doc" Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, and Pierre McGuire for the Habs Game 6 contest. That used to be a big deal. But the series had more knowledgeable announcers up to that point. Gord Miller and Ray Ferraro knew these teams better. Chris Cuthbert passed on a lot of knowledge in Game 5.
NBCU brought back Dave Strader and put him with McGuire in Toronto's Game 5. Strader is generous to his analyst, which was a disaster with Brian Boucher but better with McGuire.
Kenny Albert and McGuire teamed up again for Ottawa's Game 6.
NBCU brought back Miller and Ferraro to call Toronto's Game 6. The two at Air Canada Centre was a familiar rhythm given that the two called quite a few Toronto Maple Leafs games for TSN4. A nod to NBCU for treating the telecasts in Toronto in a more special manner with a Canadian influence. NBCU produced the Game 6 telecast from Toronto. We got to see Ray Ferraro inside the glass and shots of Maple Leaf Square. The game was a lot more watchable with a national production.
By contrast, Pierre McGuire was inside the glass in Washington for the Toronto series in Game 5. Because NBCU can't control its cameras for the games with Washington and San Jose, McGuire was invisible. NBCU insists on producing its own games. A few extra cameras can't cost that much. I get that Canadian simulcasts cost more but I would love to see a breakdown on what costs would be involved. NBCU produces all games beyond the opening round, but the opening round is when casual hockey fans are paying attention. And they saw an ugly mess.
Even in producing Game 6 of the Edmonton series, the NBCU pictures showed San Jose in defeat instead of the Edmonton celebration. What a horrible decision. The coverage did capture the immature San Jose fans who dumped cereal on the Edmonton Oilers bench just before the end of the game.
In Game 6, Brendan Burke finally learned how to say the name David Desharnais correctly. The established pronunciation from his time in Montréal and Edmonton is Day-har-NAY. Mike Johnson pronounces the name correctly. Burke wasn't getting it right. He says Day-HAR-nay.
This became more prominent when David Desharnais scored the overtime game winner in Game 5. Clearly someone whispered in Burke's ear. Perhaps that was Burke's partner, Mike Johnson, who has covered Desharnais a lot and said it correctly the whole time.
Was nice of Kenny Albert to acknowledge Bob Cole's 150th overtime playoff game during Game 5 in Ottawa. Albert tried to make an awkward joke about how many OT games Brian Boucher had been involved in this season. The great Bob Cole and the very lackluster Brian Boucher do not belong in the same sentence.
Boucher went outside of the blue paint, as it were, to gleefully say the controversial goaltender interference was not goaltender interference and couldn't see how the refs could have made that call. Like the McGuire incident earlier in the series, the analysis is made because it's Boston. If this had been in the regular season, this wouldn't be worth a mention.
Ottawa did get a break not on that call but on the missed penalty shot. Sure looks like Mark Methot used his hand on the puck to stop the goal from going into the net. That should have been a penalty shot.
As for blown calls, Zdeno Chara is able to abuse players before and after the whistle without fear of penalty. At one point, Chara yanked a helmet of a Ottawa player with no penalty. Chara is immune from calls that refs would call on other players.
We don't like to make game predictions, but announcers are a different sport. Guessing Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson follow the Orange Crush out west with that series. Bob Cole will call the Ottawa series presumably with Garry Galley. Paul Romanuk and Greg Millen will call Pittsburgh-Washington. Dave Randorf and Louie DeBrusk go to the U.S. Midwest.
Update: We called Hughson/Simpson and Randorf/DeBrusk correctly. Cole/Millen will be on Pittsburgh-Washington while Romanuk/Galley will follow Ottawa. Pretty good predictions.
As for the U.S. announcers, Kenny Albert will call the New York Rangers radio, making TV not as viable. The #1 NBC crew should cover Pittsburgh-Washington. Chris Cuthbert and Joe Micheletti would be a natural for Senators-Rangers. John Forslund and Brian Boucher would be well-suited for the "Norris" division series. Would love to see Brendan Burke and Mike Johnson stay out west to call the Edmonton series. They've earned the opportunity and they know the Oilers by now. Albert and Dave Strader can be in the mix, maybe to give Doc a day off.
Update: We know the first 4 games from NBCU. John Forslund will call the Ottawa games in "Canada's capital" as he loves to call it. Forslund is by far the worst and most anti-Canadian play-by-play person employed by NBCU. Forslund is matched up with the incompetent Brian Boucher. Dave Strader (Game 3) and Kenny Albert (Game 4) will work with Pierre McGuire at Madison Square Garden. Yes, I would rather have Albert, the Rangers radio voice, on this series than Forslund. I would rather have Sam Rosen and Joe Micheletti call the games. For the first 2 games, this is the worst possible schedule.
Brendan Burke (games in Anaheim) and Chris Cuthbert (games in Edmonton) work with Joe Micheletti in the Edmonton series.
CBC TV schedule
The CBC will cover the whole Ottawa series while Rogers Sportsnet will have the whole Edmonton series. The Ottawa Senators have no Sunday games in this round so there won't be conflicts. The Sunday night ban only extends through the second round.
The CBC will split time with the other 2 playoff series. CBC will carry at least Games 2-4 of the Pittsburgh-Washington series and Games 1-2 of the Nashville-St. Louis games. This gives the CBC a game per night, except for the required Sunday break, at least through May 4. CBC prefers to have early evening games to get most of the country to The National after the game at a convenient time.
April 26 Nashville at St. Louis 8p
April 28 Nashville at St. Louis 8p
April 29 Pittsburgh at Washington 8p
May 1 Washington at Pittsburgh 7:30p
May 3 Washington at Pittsburgh 7:30p
May 5 Nashville at St. Louis TBD*
May 6 Pittsburgh at Washington TBD*
May 8 Washington at Pittsburgh TBD*
May 10 Pittsburgh at Washington TBD*
All times Eastern. * if necessary. CBC games are produced by Rogers and will not be U.S. simulcasts.
photos credit: all through NHL 1) NBC; 2)USA; 3) NBCSN