A rough 2 OT loss on the heels of what would have been an impressive comeback down 3-2 for the Ottawa Senators. A hard-fought series pretty much came down to a highly questionable interference call in the 3rd period, a call so flimsy that even Mike Milbury thought it was a bad call.
5 Canadian teams started just over a month ago. 2 teams survived to the second round: Edmonton and Ottawa. The Sens lasted until the very last second in the conference final.
The 2011 Vancouver Canucks were the last Canadian-based team to reach the Stanley Cup. The 1993 Montréal Canadiens were the last Canadian-based team to win the Stanley Cup.
The Ottawa Senators, strangers to the NBC audience, went 4-1 on the U.S. OTA network. The only loss came in Game 5 against Pittsburgh in the one-sided loss. Even with the Senators run and NBCU's praise for Erik Karlsson, we would be stunned if NBCSN carries a single Ottawa Senators game next season. Nashville will get plenty of telecasts next season, regardless of how the Preds do in the Stanley Cup final.
Doc Emrick missed the first 3 games of the Ottawa series but was strong in the last 4 games. Emrick is several escalators up from John Forslund. Even though Emrick lives in Pittsburgh, he proved to be highly professional. His NBCSN colleagues proved not to be all that professional. Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire really wanted Pittsburgh to win. They talk about Pittsburgh a lot. Too often, the dialogue about Ottawa is how Pittsburgh can stop the Senators.
They love to show how the Sens are working on the Penguins players but ignore how the Pittsburgh players are beating up the Sens full of uncalled penalties. The crosscheck on Erik Karlsson during Ottawa's first power play after more than 30 minutes of hockey in Game 6 is just one egregious example.
You still don't feel like the NBCU crew still knows the Senators, even in the 3rd round. Mike Hoffman is apparently a role player on the Senators. In the meantime, we know everything about Pittsburgh's 4th line and maybe even the training staff.
NBC's coverage was so pro-Pittsburgh that it's honestly embarrassing. Notice a distinction: they are anti-Canada but also very pro-Pittsburgh. John Forslund is anti-Canada. Olczyk and McGuire are normally good. Both of them have significant ties to the Penguins in the past, but this is more about Sidney Crosby and ratings.
Edmonton suffered a 7-0 loss in Game 4 against San Jose in the opening round. The Oilers won the next 2 games to take the round. The Senators came close to matching that mark.
This has to be said. P.K. Subban is going to the Stanley Cup final but not with the Montréal Canadiens. Subban has been wearing yellow for less than a calendar year. The Nashville Predators were a good team last season but Subban has played a key role. Trading a star defenseman as he is about to hit his prime for defenseman Shea Weber, though good, is barely on the other side of his prime.
The argument was that the Canadiens wanted to win now. Once again, Montréal fell out of the playoffs from not scoring enough goals. The Canadiens wanted to get tougher: the New York Rangers and Nashville both looked tougher than les Habs. Steve Ott, one of those acquisitions, just retired from the NHL.
The trade was a bad deal for the Canadiens. Hoping to be wrong is encouraging yet naive. Weber is very good but Subban would have helped Montréal win the Stanley Cup.
I don't pretend to understand the dynamic of being an Ottawa Senators fan. But the lack of sellouts for key playoff games and having one of the longest commutes from downtown in all of the NHL does provoke some questions. Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star offered up a take on the Senators fan base, though a Toronto-based analysis might not be sufficient.
Ottawa was trying to be the first city since Edmonton in 1987 to win the Grey Cup and Stanley Cup in a 12-month period.
Since we won't be writing about hockey for awhile (unless Rogers hires back Glenn Healy and Mike Johnson), we should point out that the Montréal Canadiens deal is up with Rogers Sportsnet East. TSN wants to reacquire the rights to the Habs. Bell Media owns part of the Canadiens and sister network RDS carries the team en Francaise.
Before the Rogers national deal, TSN had the Habs while Rogers had the Senators. The outlets could switch teams again. Otherwise, TSN5 would have the Sens and Habs and likely not enough announcers to carry the load of Habs, Sens, and Leafs.
All we have right now is speculation but perhaps something to stoke interest between now and early October.
photo credit: NHL via NBCSN