Versus will televise wall-to-wall National Hockey League Stanley Cup Playoff action beginning April 11 with the Conference Quarterfinals and all of the series leading up to and including the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Each night, Versus will televise one or two playoff games, as well as studio wrap-up show Hockey Central. The network will unveil its playoff schedule April 9.
In the Conference Quarterfinals, which begin April 11, Versus anticipates covering 15-20 games. The number of playoff games will vary depending upon the length of each individual series. This is also true of the Conference Semifinals, which are scheduled to begin April 25.
During the Conference Finals, scheduled to begin May 10, the network will present both series, anywhere between 6-12 games. Versus’ Stanley Cup coverage will culminate with the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals.
All games in each series will be presented in HDTV. Versus will, when feasible, simulcast games from Canadian networks to give viewers the unique perspective of other networks’ coverage.
The network’s studio show, Hockey Central, is hosted by Bill Clement with Keith Jones and Brian Engblom, and it will once again provide commentary on the games and what’s happening around the league, as well as adding a number of unique production features.
Versus will also, on occasion, bring players into the studio to serve as celebrity guest analysts, and this venture will be highlighted with Mark Messier joining the studio team during the network’s telecasts of the Stanley Cup Finals games.
Among the regular segments of the studio show are the following: Versus One-on-One, remote interviews with players and coaches that go in-depth with their subjects, unlike the usual between-period interview segments; Face-Off, a regular debate between the studio talent on the hot topics in the NHL; Plays of the Week, a weekly musical tribute to the best plays of the past week; and Marquee Match-Ups, which previews key NHL games not televised by Versus during the week.
Each night Versus features a playoff matchup, the network will deliver a condensed highlight version of the game that will be distributed via its video-on-demand platform. These will be available the morning after game play, so that hockey fans who may not have seen the previous night’s game won’t miss out on any of the playoff action.
Versus’ Web site will continue to provide exhaustive information about the NHL including editorial coverage from some of the most knowledgeable hockey sources. The site will ramp up daily coverage to include highlights from all of Versus’ games, as well as daily insider video featuring Versus’ NHL talent on the network’s broadband channel, The Player.
Each night after the studio show, Versus’ talent will film Web-exclusive content that will give the inside scoop on what has happened to date in the playoffs, as well as their predictions for the future games in the series. The Web site will also feature a new playoff version of the Versus Salary Cap Challenge fantasy game.