Stanley Cup Finals Return To The Garden Tonight

The Bruins look to get ahead in the Stanley Cup Finals tonight as the series comes to Boston. After another thrilling game on Saturday night, the Bruins and Blackhawks find themselves tied up at a game apiece.

Tonight’s game (8:00pm) will be on the NBC Sports Network, the last game in the series which is scheduled to be shown on the cable outlet. The rest of the series will be on NBC, which should be a boon for local outlet WHDH channel 7.

Saturday night’s game ended around 11:30, and for the postgame, NESN was able to jump right in live, but CSNNE was showing the New England Revolution game. They started their Postgame Live on CSNNE.com. I decided to check it out, just to see the quality of the stream. (It was excellent.) I tuned in just in time to hear Felger say “Chris Kelly still sucks!”  That was enough for me.

A couple other quick notes:

Jocks dial up rivalry – If you heard the Mut and Merloni show on Friday, you probably heard their back and forth with Chicago sports radio 670 The Score. A lowlight was Merloni calling the station and trying to pass himself off as “Joey from Medford.”

Bill Simmons is on his way to another lame ESPN Twitter suspension – Awful Announcing looks at The Sports Guy expressing frustration at his employer again.

Former NFL Executive Of The Year Scott Pioli Joins Football Night In America – As he continues his media career, the former Patriots executive signs a deal with NBC.

Anyone see this in the Sunday Baseball Notes in the Globe:

Stephen Drew, SS, Red Sox — Now that June 15 has come and gone, the Red Sox would be able to trade Drew anywhere. Free agents signed during the offseason can’t be dealt until after the 15th unless they give their permission. What would the market be? Given the lack of shortstops around baseball, the Red Sox would have no problem finding a taker, but they have been steadfast that Drew is their guy. One National League GM couldn’t quite understand their infatuation with Drew. “They’re either trying to justify the $9.5 million they paid him, or they’re not sold on [Jose] Iglesias, who could start for 29 other teams.”

So…is this NL GM saying that Iglesias is the best shortstop in baseball?

The Celtics/Clippers talks for Doc Rivers are heating up again, and some think a deal could be done today. It really seems like a point of no return has been reached. Stay tuned…

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Anatomy of an Uncreative Column

Bruins lose game one to the Blackhawks in triple OT.

Conversation in the Globe sports department:

Joe Sullivan: Hey Dan, did you know that 23 years ago, when the Bruins played the Oilers in the Stanley Cup Finals, they lost the first game in triple OT?  They never recovered and went on to lose the series.

Dan Shaughnessy: Wow. I had no idea. That’s my column. I’ll just pad an extra 900 words onto it, the Globe can run headlines like Bruins’ loss evokes memories of 1990 and Drawn-out loss drags us back to 1990.  Phew, I thought I was going to have to write something about a Boston team not opening a championship series in Chicago since 1918 when Babe Ruth beat the Cubs.

Sullivan: Great. That would be really brave of you to bring up such a sore topic. It’s so timely, too. Hey, let’s play this up big on that Twitter thing! The web geeks can make a Tweet about it from the @BostonGlobe account.

Shaughnessy: Make sure they include the word “devastating.” Then I’ll even retweet it. Or rather, you can tell whomever runs my account do it. Is it Silva still?

Sullivan: Wow, Dan, that’s great. Tell you what, I’ll retweet your retweet of the tweet about about your column. I’ll be the only person on the entire planet to do it. This is gonna be huge.

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Patriots to add talk format to preseason TV booth – Chad Finn reports that the preseason duo of Don Criqui and Randy Cross is no longer. Instead, the plan is to go non-traditional and have a “host” (probably Dan Roche) and an analyst (Christian Fauria) along with another former Patriots player on the team sideline.

Rather than doing play-by-play, it will be more of a discussion. This should be an improvement, especially during the second half of games when many of the participants on the field are not likely to be big contributors, or even make the team. It’s an idea I think that has been considered by other networks as they question the traditional setup of play-by-play and analyst in the booth, but the Patriots are the first to do it.

I think it’s safe to say though, that the broadcast team will still wear Patriots polo shirts, which has been an annual topic of rage among certain columnists in town.

Bruins, Blackhawks goalies on two paths to greatness – Bill Doyle has thoughts from Eddie Olczyk on the two goaltenders in the series, and thoughts from other NBC personnel on the series.

A few other links of note:

Clippers, Doc Rivers show mutual interest – Baxter Holmes has the Celtics coach reportedly interested in the potential of the LA Clippers, and of leaving the Celtics to coach them.

I have to think that if things have gotten to this stage, it’s going to be very hard for Rivers to come back here and coach this team, no matter what it looks like. It’s fair to say I’m disappointed in Doc, but it’s also his life and happiness, and if he doesn’t think he’d be satisfied working through a rebuild here, then it’s probably best for all to move on. (Aside: Vinnie Del Negro? Ugh.)

Coming of (young) age: Understanding Xander Bogaerts’ superstar potential – Alex Speier has a look at the youngest player in Triple A and how the Red Sox are managing his progress through the system.

All Hail The Hoodie – Peter Richmond isn’t a fan of the Patriots (He’s loyal to the Giants) but the Sports on Earth writer can’t imagine the NFL without Bill Belichick, whom he does root for.

Epic Game One Ends Poorly For Bruins

Despite the disappointing outcome of game one, hopefully it can be appreciated for just what a phenomenal exhibition of sports that it was.

The game ended just a tick before 1:00 EST, but the ratings for the game locally approached NFL levels.

The overnights have this one pulling in a 28.1 locally for WHDH channel 7 which had the game. Compare that to game one of Boston/Vancouver of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals which did a 25.5 locally.

Nationally, the allure of having two Original Six teams translated well in ratings too, which the game doing a 4.8. That is the highest rating for a game one of the Stanley Cup Finals since 1997 (Detroit/Philadelphia, 5.1).

Last year’s game one between the Kings and Devils did a 2.4, so last night represented a 100% increase.

Bruins now face steep uphill battle – Kevin Paul Dupont says that the Bruins are in trouble.

Classic Cup battle tough for Bruins to swallow – Steve Buckley says that the have a lot of work to do if they intend to recover from this one.

For Bruins, this was opportunity wasted – Joe Haggerty says that the Bruins will lament this one as the one that got away.

Bruins lament lost chance, but it won’t be their last chance – Chad Finn says that as tough as this one was to lose, all is not yet lost.

Bruins let Hawks off hook in Game 1 – Joe McDonald has the Bruins just letting this one get away.

Bruins learn extra-long lesson in Game 1 – DJ Bean says that the Bruins proved to be human last night.

A great night, just not for the Bruins  – Chris Gasper says its time to move onto game two.

Elsewhere:

Doc Rivers’ eyes open to other options – Steve Bulpett says that while Doc Rivers said that he would either coach the Celtics or nowhere, the coach is now open to at least considering other jobs as he may not be interested in rebuilding the Celtics.

Two-run HR just adds to Nava’s career year – Sean McAdam looks another big hit for the Red Sox outfielder, who may legitimately be in the All Star discussion. Nava hit a two-run homer last night which couple with a strong start from Alfredo Aceves was the difference for the Sox in a 2-1 win over Tampa.

NESN and CSNNE Stanley Cup Coverage Plans

With the Stanley Cup Finals starting up tonight in Chicago, here are the local coverage plans from NESN and CSNNE. Each station has their advantages, as obviously NESN is the regular season home of the Bruins, and CSNNE, with its ties to NBC has connections there as well.

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NESN DELIVERING EXPANDED
BRUINS STANLEY CUP FINAL COVERAGE ON NESN AND NESNPLUS
90-Minute Pre-Game and 90-Minute Post-Game Coverage For Every Stanley Cup Final Game

NESN, New England’s most watched sports network, will deliver expanded pre and post-game coverage on NESN and NESNplus (NESN.com/NESNplus) during the Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks. With the addition of NESN Sports Today Bruins Specials, NESN will air a 90-minute pre-game and 90-minute post-game before and after every Stanley Cup Final game.

During the regular season NESN airs 30-minute pre and post-game shows. During most of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, NESN aired 60-minute pre and post-game shows.

The NESN and NESNplus Bruins coverage schedule for the Stanley Cup Final follows:

NESN-Bruins

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COMCAST SPORSTNET TO PROVIDE EXTENSIVE COVERAGE OF

THE 2013 NHL STANLEY CUP FINAL FEATURING

BOSTON BRUINS VS. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

Michael Felger & Tony Amonte to Lead Network’s Robust Coverage;

Pre & Post-Game Shows, In-Depth Analysis, On-site Reporting & More

NBC’s Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, Pierre McGuire & Mike Milbury,

Along with Bruins Enforcer ShawnThornton, to Contribute to Coverage

CSNNE.com to Offer Live Stream of all CSN Post-Game Shows; Unprecedented LIVE exclusive Web only Post-Game Show for Game 2; 

and Up-to-the-Minute 24/7 Coverage of all the Action

BURLINGTON, MA, June 11, 2013The Bruins have advanced to the Stanley Cup Final and Comcast SportsNet will once again provide extensive coverage of the entire series with pre and post-game shows, special programming, expert contributions from NBC talent and NHL players, 24/7 digital coverage and much more. The action begins on Wednesday night with Comcast SportsNet’s one-hour edition of Pre-Game Live beginning at 7PM, followed by Game 1 at 8PM ET on NBC, with a Comcast SportsNet one-hour Post-game show immediately following the game.

Comcast SportsNet’s Pre and Post- game coverage for the Stanley Cup Final, presented by Ace Ticket, will surround all games throughout the series. Michael Felger and Tony Amonte will host with analysis of each game and response to Bruins fans’ questions, posts, and tweets submitted on Twitter, Facebook, and CSNNE.com. Unfiltered, in-depth discussion and analysis of the team’s Playoff performance will also be part of all Comcast SportsNet programming,including the Felger & Mazz show, Chevrolet SportsNet Central and UNO’s Sports Tonight.

CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty will once again be on-site providing in-arena reports from every game, both home and away, and will be joined by Comcast SportsNet anchors Mike Giardi and Kevin Walsh. NBC’s Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, Ed Olczyk and Pierre McGuire who are calling all games in this series will contribute to the coverage, as will Mike Milbury who has contributed throughout the Playoffs. Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton will also continue to offer guest commentary.

CSNNE.com will offer a live stream of all Comcast SportsNet post-game shows and will make network history on Saturday with its first ever live, exclusive web-only post-game show immediately following Game 2 which will be showcased in addition to ComcastSportsNet’s live television post-game show scheduled to start at midnight following the New England Revolution matchup. CSNNE.com will also provide 24/7 coverage of the Bruins Playoffs action including daily game-day and off-daycoverage from Haggerty and the entire CSN crew. Additionally, the site willinclude up-to-the-minute stats, scores, analysis and on demand video. Fans can follow @CSNNE on Twitter and join the conversation by using #BruinsTalk in their Twitter comments throughout the series. CSNNE.com will also feature post-game editions of The Great American Hockey Show – the site’s signature hockey program featuring Haggerty and Giardi.

Comcast SportsNet’s Pre & Post Game Coverage of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final is as follows:

  • Game 1, Wed. June 12th: Bruins at Blackhawks – CSN Pre-Game @7PM; Post-Game immediately following
  • Game 2, Sat. June 15th: Bruins at Blackhawks – CSN Pre-Game @7PM; CSNNE.com Post-Game Show immediately following (CSNNE.com/live) & **CSN Post-Game on TV @ Midnight
  • Game 3, Mon. June 17th: Blackhawks at Bruins – CSN Pre-Game @7PM; Post-Game immediately following
  •  Game 4, Wed. June 19th: Blackhawks at Bruins – CSN Pre-Game @7PM; Post-Game immediately following
  •  * Game 5, Sat. June 22nd: Bruins at Blackhawks – CSN Pre-Game @7PM; Post-Game immediately following
  • * Game 6, Mon. June 24th: Blackhawks at Bruins – CSN Pre-Game @7PM; Post-Game immediately following
  • * Game 7, Wed. June 26th: Bruins at Blackhawks – CSN Pre-Game @7PM; Post-Game immediately following

* If Necessary

 ** Post-game show will start immediately following the New England Revolution game on CSN

No Circus Here, Folks

I’m still laughing.

It was put well by BSMW messageboard poster “Kingasaurus:”

This is amazing on so many levels.

-BB (as usual) doesn’t care about the media reaction to anything he does.
-Silver’s sources wrong
-Jets fans confused, nervous and fatalistic
-Local media confused
-National media confused

The whole thing just makes me laugh.

Where do we even begin? The Patriots signing Tim Tebow basically brought Twitter and the Internet to a standstill yesterday.

Immediately national media booked flights to get to Foxboro for today’s mini-camp. This might be the biggest media crowd ever for a Patriots mini-camp, which is saying something.

There’s plenty of talk about how the Patriots have brought a media circus upon themselves, and how basically this is the worst and stupidest thing they’ve ever done.

When media (and fans) say these things, I can only shake my head at the fact that they clearly haven’t been paying attention for the last dozen years.

There will be no circus. There will be plenty of media at the beginning, but as each day goes by, and Tebow isn’t available to speak, and Belichick won’t give them anything, and Patriots players won’t give them anything, the crowds will thin.

Tebow is no lock to even make it out of this week with the team, let alone make it out of training camp. The scenario I keep seeing in my head is Tebow sustaining some sort of injury, being placed on IR, and basically disappearing for an entire year. During that time, he’ll be around the team, be coached on his technique and playbook, and won’t be seen in the locker room or by the media at all.

That’s if they even decide to keep him around.

This morning’s Belichick press conference might’ve been the greatest thing I’ve ever seen. Thanks for coming, fellas.

Meanwhile, there are some of the worst columns ever written out there today. That’s not hyperbole. Check these out:

Patriots’ arrogance on full display with Tim Tebow signing – Typical Pete Prisco. It’s saying something when Dennis and Callahan are saying your column is a little too slanted against Belichick. Kirk Minihane kept asking Prisco how it would be a circus here, and Prisco had no answer. Clown.

With Tim Tebow, Patriots show desperation – This is a tape-measure shot by James (don’t call me J.J.) Walker of ESPN.com. Holy crap. This might be the worst column ever written. Ever. It makes no sense whatsoever.

Bill Belichick accepts the Tim Tebow challenge – Mike Silver, who is becoming the new Tom Jackson/Charlie Casserly, and who wrote the article that said that Belichick hated Tebow’s game, scrambles and doubles-down on his original claims.

Five Tim Tebow coverage tips for the lucky Boston sports columnists – If you want to see basically everything that is wrong with sports media today in one place, Steve Politi of the Star-Ledger gives it to you in one handy (and incredibly annoying) spot.

The sad thing is, everything in that column will happen. The media is all about the media.

On the other side, you’re bound to have a  really good column or two out there too.

Tim Tebow’s reported signing with Patriots puts QB in perfect position – This one from Dan Wetzel might be the best one I’ve seen.

NESN Sports Today to Premiere Tomorrow Night, Replaces NESN Daily

nesn-sports-todayNESN announced today that beginning tomorrow night, NESN Daily will be replaced with a new format and show, NESN Sports Today.

Here is the release from the network:

June 10, 2013 – NESN, New England’s most watched sports network, will debut a new sports program called NESN Sports Today on Tuesday, June 11immediately following the network’s Boston Red Sox coverage. Separately, there will be periodic specials, starting with Bruins coverage on Wednesday, June 12 (see below for more details).

“We want to give New England viewers a live, fast paced, nightly sports show that goes beyond opinions or scores with highlights,” said Joseph Maar, NESN’s vice president of programming & production, executive producer.

Over the past few months NESN has been developing a dynamic sports program that strives to be relevant, insightful and interactive for passionate fans using NESN’s unparalleled access to teams and unmatched resources.

“The new show gives fans everything they need to know in sports, plus interactive debates where viewers can weigh-in on the discussion,” added Maar. “NESN Sports Today will look and feel different from any other sports show in the country and allow mobile device users to participate in the program.”

Maar began the process of transforming NESN’s sports programming back in August when he joined the network. In November 2012, NESN added three new anchors/reporters by hiring Adam Pellerin, Leah Hextall and Jamie Erdahl to team with Jamison Coyle. They will be joined by an already popular and talented group of NESN announcers and hosts that includes Don Orsillo, Jack Edwards, Tom Caron and Dale Arnold, plus regular appearances by analysts Andy Brickley, Billy Jaffe, Jerry Remy, Dennis Eckersley, Jim Rice and Tim Wakefield.

NESN Sports Today, which replaces NESN Daily, will air every night in 30-minute blocks from 10 pm to 12 midnight (or immediately following Red Sox or Bruins post-game programming). NESN will broadcast a best of edition of the show the following morning between 4 am and 6 am and again between 12 noon and 2 pm.

NESN Sports Today Specials

The program’s format will adapt during nights of major sports stories, devoting expanded coverage for special days like Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics and Patriots playoff games. Beginning this Wednesday and before each Stanley Cup Championship game there will be a NESN Sports Today Bruins Pre-Game Special at 5:30 pm.

Thus ends a largely forgettable three year run for NESN Daily, which debuted in August of 2010 with hosts  Jade McCarthy and Uri Berenguer. The original format was a bust, as chemistry between the co-hosts was non-existant, and Berenguer was taken off the show in November, and McCarthy left the network the following summer.

The show format, which originally was going to be a PTI-style debate program was quickly shelved, and the show basically reverted to the format of its predecessor, Sports Desk.

This is VP Joseph Marr’s first real chance to impact the network he joined last summer from FOX Sports North.

I’m not sure about you, but the term “interactive debates” when it comes to sports programming makes me shudder.

Odds and Ends As We Prep For The Cup Finals

Hindsight is always a fun activity to engage in. Let’s look at this March column from Kevin Paul Dupont for instance:

Jarome Iginla made the right call

The finger-wags that Dupont takes within the column at Bruins fans are outstanding:

Anyone faulting, or even questioning, Jarome Iginla’s decision to drop himself into the Pittsburgh lineup instead of the Boston lineup just isn’t paying attention to what’s going on in the NHL.

The Penguins are a powerhouse, all the more mighty now that Iginla, the aged star right winger, is joining the roster. About the only thing left for Trader Ray Shero to do now is coax Mario Lemieux out of his owner’s box in Pittsburgh, have him suit up, and maybe have Mario Magnifique ask Wayne Gretzky to come along for the ride.

An unbeatable powerhouse. Got it. He goes on to talk about how the Flames had offers from both the Penguins and Bruins, and the Flames GM wanted to take Boston’s but the choice was ultimately Iginla’s and he chose Pittsburgh.

Again, perfectly understandable on Iginla’s part. Bruins fans don’t want to hear it, but the Penguins are the better team this year, should win it all, and Iginla has been chasing a Cup since joining the Flames in October 1996. To have watched Ray Bourque here for a couple of decades is to know Iginla’s pain and wanting.

Then later, shades of Ron Borges here:

Meanwhile, Chiarelli will have to look elsewhere to improve a team that is now three trades behind the Penguins, who in recent days also acquired ex-Stars forward Brenden Morrow and ex-Sharks blue liner Doug Murray. The Bruins also tried to land Morrow, which leaves Chiarelli 0 for 2 in the mano-a-mano matchup with Trader Ray.

We’ve definitely all said things we’d like to take back, thankfully for most of us, those proclamations aren’t made in public. Normally I overlook failed predictions, but the smarm and finger-wags in this column were too much to be left out.

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Meanwhile, as the Bruins prepare to play for the Stanley Cup for the second time in three years, and the Red Sox sit in first place despite plenty of preason doom and gloom predictions, (not) surprisingly talk this morning in some circles seems devoted to whatever negative stories can be found. Mostly these two:

Wes Welker finally able to be himself as member of the Denver Broncos – Mike Silver of Yahoo! sports has the former Patriot no longer feeling the “urgency to walk the line between bland and unrevealing.”

So when John Fox, Jack Del Rio and Peyton Manning do their usual first-round exit, will Silver follow up about how happy Wes still is to be freed of the shackles of Belichick?

Looking closer at that article, it’s hard to know what inferences to the Patriots are Welker’s and which are Silver’s. For instance:

“It is [a bummer], but I think he understands it, and I understand it. … It’s been going on for years and years. I’m not the first [Patriots] player that this happened to, and I definitely won’t be the last.”

The [Patriots] is put in by the author. But was Welker saying he’s not the first Patriots player this has happened to, or first NFL player?

Doc Rivers mum on returning to Celtics – Gary Washburn of the Globe was able to touch base with Rivers, whose comment about his future with the Celtics was only “I’d rather not say.”

I think Doc Rivers is the best thing the Celtics have going for them at the moment, but even I’m annoyed at how he is essentially holding the team hostage right now. If he eventually quits, many of the top candidates are going to be off the market.

Here’s what ESPN Boston thinks are the top sports stories in Boston today:

espn-headlinesMeanwhile the Boston Sports Live webshow on Boston.com has their hot topic for the day:

By the way, who at the Globe thought that a front-page cover story in the Sunday Globe was the place for an investigative story on why major league baseball games are longer than they were 50 years ago? Must be a slow news week.