A Jessica Biel marathon from the long-running WB series, it’s not — although gearing up for that could prove heavenly in its own right.
Rather, this Saturday night in the springtime should be celestial for fans of winter sports. NBC Sports Network (for its part, NBC which has coverage from The Players this weekend, is airing the canceled Harry’s Law, The Firm and L&O: SVU in primetime on May 12) will drop the puck on the decisive seventh game between the New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals for a berth in the semifinals of Lord Stanley’s tournament at 7:30 p.m. (ET).
With both clubs already having survived Game 7s to escape the first round, Broadway Blueshirts netminder Henrik Lundqvist, Washington’s on-ice monument Alex Ovechkin and/or some of their teammates will determine whether it’s a Hudson Crossing or a drive down 95 for Marty Brodeur and his New Jersey Devils in the NHL’s Eastern Conference Finals. Out West, the Los Angeles Kings (Nielsen market No. 2) will face off with the Phoenix Coyotes (No. 13) on Sunday night at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Network.
Failing overtime — two of the contests have skated into extra sessions, including Game 3, which the Rangers finally netted in the third additional stanza — that should leave plenty of time to switch the dial to TNT’s presentation from Staples Center. There, Kobe, perhaps with an assist or something more punishing from the returning Meta World Peace, and the Lakers look to stave off the Denver (Knicks West) Nuggets.
Depending on the outcomes, it could be Nielsen heaven or hell for fans, and executives at the leagues, NBC Sports Group, Turner Sports, ESPN/ABC and Time Warner Cable, which no doubt prefer to tip off its pair of Lakers-centric RSNs without the baggage of a first-round airball. A long Lakers playoff run may delay consumer marketing efforts, but David Rone, Melinda Witmer and Mark Shuken’s message to distributors would be much stronger if the club wins its 17th NBA title.
Should the Lakers lose and Staples co-tenant the Clippers, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin flop to Memphis in their Game 7 affair on ABC on Sunday at 1 p.m., David Stern LA-less Western Conference bracket would be left with DMAs No. 17 (the Nuggets), No. 36 (Greg Popovich’s now uptempo San Antonio Spurs), No. 44 (the next men, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden’s OKC Thunder) and No. 49 (home to the Beale Street ballers).
(Note to programmers and geographers everywhere, The Grindhouse, the homecourt to Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay, is in the central time zone, while the opening pace of the Indiana-Miami series will heat up in South Beach, presently located in the ET.)