Versus drops the puck on its Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage tonight with a postseason preview and a doubleheader.
The network, which enters its fourth postseason on a Nielsen rush with double-digit viewership and demo gains, begins its coverage with Hockey Central preview show at 6:30 p.m. (ET), followed by Game One of the series between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins at 7 p.m. As the second part of its doubleheader, Versus will televise the opener between the St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks at 10 p.m.
Each night throughout the postseason, Versus will televise at least one game, however most nights during the first two rounds will feature a doubleheader. During the conference quarterfinal opening round, the network's coverage is non-exclusive and subject to local blackouts. Over the course of the next two weeks, Versus will have action from each of the eight series. (See full schedule below.)
During the conference semifinal round Versus will air two exclusive games per series and in the conference finals it will air exclusive coverage of both series, with the total number of games dependent on the outcome. Versus will -- when feasible -- simulcast games from Canadian networks to provide viewers with bonus coverage.
"Versus is heading into the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs with tremendous momentum. In 2008, Versus not only aired some of the most-watched NHL postseason games on cable since 2002, but was also the fastest-growing cable sports network in the country. That growth continued this year resulting in substantial viewership increases throughout the regular season," said Marc Fein, executive vice president of programming, production and business operations for Versus in a statement. "When you combine all of Versus' successes with the momentum the NHL is currently seeing, we're extremely excited to get this year's postseason underway."
In a scheduling change, Versus will conclude its NHL coverage this season with Games 3and 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Previously, the network has presented the first two Cup games, which this year will be found on NBC. The Peacock will also televise the fifth through seventh contests, should they be necessary.