Why did this game – this Stanley Cup playoff game – began after 9:00 pm Eastern time?
Yes, the teams involved are from, respectively, the Central and Pacific time zones. But a faceoff at, say, 8:20, broadens the appeal to a national audience.
8:20 gives the TV network plenty of time for pre-game programming and means a start time of 5:20 Pacific – not too terribly early for West Coast fans and within a window that would end the average playoff game by roughly 11:30 Eastern.
Now that this series has a higher national profile, why does Game 5 face off after 10:00 pm Eastern? It’ll be on a Saturday, this series is on course to be a classic – and off it goes to another late-night hinterland.
The higher-profile Pittsburgh-Washington series gets Saturday’s primetime TV slot, which just makes sense, and NBC also has the Kentucky Derby that day. In a perfect world, the Preds-Sharks Game 5 would move to late afternoon on Sunday, when there’s only one NHL game scheduled.
As a resident of eastern Tennessee, trust me on this: The Predators are something of an afterthought around here. All their regular season games are televised (on the regional Fox Sports channel, if you can get it), and with the most important game in the most important series in franchise history starting so late, the Preds and the NHL are missing out on a great opportunity to grow their fan base.
But enough griping.
The most impressive number of Nashville’s Game 4 history-maker wasn’t an exact figure. It was this:
"17,188 Official attendance. Only a thousand or so left before the Predators won."
That’s an Original Six level of devotion. The fans in Smashville want this series.
Too bad it’ll be so difficult for everyone else to share it.