With the Bruins kicking off their run to another possible Stanley Cup Championship, fans of the Black and Gold are the beneficiaries of an abundance of media coverage due to NBC's "all-in" philosophy for its coverage of the NHL playoffs.
An NBC release promises that, "For the first time in the 95-year history of the NHL, every Stanley Cup Playoff game will be televised nationally. The NBC Sports Group will provide unprecedented access to the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs in April, May and June, televising as many as 105 playoff games and possibly more than 262.5 hours of programming. Games will be presented on NBC, the NBC Sports Network, the NHL Network, and NBCUniversal’s business channel CNBC in primetime."
Locally, NESN will provide its traditional coverage of the team, bringing up to five of the first round games against the Washington Capitals live. They are also expanding their pre-game shows to at least an hour, (depending on scheduling) and will also provide "complete" post-game coverage, again depending on the time the game ends and their schedule for that evening.
NESN’s duo of Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley will call every NESN televised playoff game with Naoko Funayama serving as rink-side reporter. Dale Arnold will host NESN’s studio programs with Gord Kluzak, Barry Pederson and Mark Mowers providing analysis.
For fans in most cities this would be enough to slake the thirst of fans. Not in Boston. Here in "Hub of Hockey" as Kevin Paul Dupont liks to call it, we also have the Comcast/NBC owned CSNNE in town, which will also devote many hours of coverage to the Bruins playoff run.
Comcast SportsNet has affiliates in other NHL playoff cities - Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia and San Jose. (CSN Bay Area) The difference here is that those affiliates carry the broadcast rights to the Blackhawks, Capitals, Flyers and Sharks, respectively. CSNNE does not hold the Bruins broadcast rights, but will still provide pre-game and post-game coverage for each playoff game.
CSNNE will air pre- and post-game coverage for all Bruins playoff games, including Chevrolet SportsNet Central surrounding every matchup. Before each game, host Michael Felger will react and respond to Bruins fans’ questions, posts, and tweets submitted on Twitter, Facebook, and CSNNE.com. Coverage of the team’s playoff performance will be part of all Comcast SportsNet programming, including the Felger & Mazz show, Chevrolet SportsNet Central and Uno’s Sports Tonight.
Felger leads the studio team with NHL veteran Tony Amonte. CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty will be on-site providing in-arena reports from every game, both home and away, joined by Comcast SportsNet anchors Mike Giardi and Kevin Walsh. Contributing to the coverage will be respected Bruins analysts like Kevin Paul Dupont and Bob Beers.
An added benefit of the CSNNE/NBC relationship that that CSNNE will have access to Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic’s Capitals coverage team. The two stations will be able to swap perspectives and information during the entire first round series between the Bruins and the Capitals.
The arrangements are similar to what both networks did for last year's championship run by the Bruins. Both CSNNE and NESN reaped very strong ratings for their broadcasts, with each one attracting their own brand of fans - NESN's the traditional fan who follows the team and looks for low-key coverage with solid analysis, and CSNNE bringing in the more casual fan, who wants the modern coverage of a "strong take" and controversy at every turn. Each brand of fan is fiercely loyal to their style, and I don't get the sense that there was a whole lot of crossover between the camps. Those who watched the NESN coverage pretty much stuck with them the whole time, and vice-versa.
Whichever style of coverage you prefer, enjoy the Bruins playoff run, and let's all hope it extends into June once again.