22 April 2007

One down

The Senators finished off a surprisingly quick dismissal of Pittsburgh on Thursday night with a 3-0 win with Ray Emery picked up his first career playoff shutout. Ottawa really controlled play in all five games, only losing in Game 2 because the Penguins were more efficient with their limited chances.

This is good news for the Senators, of course, and bad news for the NHL and NBC's television ratings in the USA, banking heavily as they were on a deep playoff run by media darling Sidney Crosby and the rest of the Baby Pens. Their time will come, I suppose, but no one should be too surprised they wilted a bit during their first playoff experience, and Crosby himself played the series with a partially-broken foot.

The Senators will get another chance to give the television suits sleepless nights by knocking out a New York-market team (either the Rangers or Devils) in the second round.

I am generally opposed to salary caps in any sport, but the post-lockout NHL CBA has me feeling slightly conflicted. While I generally root for the destruction of the best-laid plans of television execs, the sad truth for pro hockey is that they are such a marginal property in the US that any prolonged period of minimal ratings are likely to see them banished deep in the satellite netherworld. Because their fortunes are tied mostly to a small handful of trendy US teams (Pittsburgh, Detroit, New York, Dallas) it would certainly be better for the NHL and network television to ensure those teams remain contenders, which uncapped payrolls might do.