NBC broadcast team expects fast-paced Stanley Cup Final, high ratings

An excerpt from my latest Chicago Tribune column:

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Mike Emrick never uses conventional descriptions. So while the game may be hockey, he referred to another sport in previewing the Blackhawks-Tampa Bay Stanley Cup Final.

“It’s going to be a track meet,” Emrick said. “I don’t think they’ll have the shot put or the pole vault, but the rest of the events are going to be there.”

Emrick and his NBC partner, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire, are bracing for a fast-paced and potentially high-scoring series. Olczyk has first-hand experience in playing in a series where the goal lamp got burnt out. He was with the Blackhawks in 1985, when they lost 4-2 to Edmonton in the conference final. There were 69 goals, the most ever for a semifinal and for a six-game playoff series.

“I was only a minus-4,” said Olczyk, noting that the Oilers scored 44 goals in six games.

Olczyk doesn’t anticipate the goal record will be broken, but he said if the goalies, the Blackhawks’ Corey Crawford and Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishops, are only “average,” there could be a bunch of 6-5, 7-6 games in the Final.

“Both these teams have the ability to be able to finish,” Olczyk said. “A lot of teams, a lot of players need eight, nine chances to get one goal. (Tyler) Johnson, (Steven) Stamkos, (Jonathan) Toews, (Patrick) Kane, those guys need one or two chances to score. I think both teams want to play the same way, and it’s going to lead to chances. It should be a lot of fun.”

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