Talk about the NBA's biggest nightmare which doesn't involve LeBron in a sling.
The NBA Playoffs' conference semifinals, their most exciting postseason round in recent years, became a subset of three noncompetitive sweeps and one noncompetitive series (Cavaliers-Celtics) deadlocked at 2-2. Between baseball's second month, the NHL's playoffs, and a smattering of other niche sports vying for prime-time ratings, the second-round whimper is untimely dismal for the league as they lose out on not only the ADHD-prone Internet sports editors of the world, but also on some much-needed revenue and marketing. Get ready for a week of hype leading up to the Suns-Lakers matchup in the Western Conference Finals. If we're lucky, we'll at least get some viral comedy videos starring Dwight Howard.
Meanwhile, the NHL had one competitive letdown in their second round (the Sharks convincingly skating by the Red Wings), but seemingly lopsided matchups in Chicago-Vancouver and Boston-Philadelphia remain undecided, and the darling Montreal Canadiens have pushed the Cup-defending Pittsburgh Penguins into a seventh game. Advantage, NHL.
(Aside: Then again, San Jose-Detroit was competitive too. The Sharks won four one-goal games and Detroit took their game by a 7-1 count, meaning the Wings actually scored MORE goals in the series. And lost in five. I wonder if that's ever happened before in hockey.)
Now if only, like the Washington Capitals power play, the NHL knew how to close when given the opportunity. This happened last year as well. Hockey had a silly amount of great series, while basketball provided fewer instant classics. Granted, if you're a rock 'n roll guy and you hate metal, then a better metal band will not sway the rock 'n rollers into their concert. Not even when the Jazz is painfully off-key.
But let's tell Gary Bettman the same thing we say to fellow Blogcritics writers who occasionally wonder if anybody out there is reading: find angles that fall through the cracks. When the mainstream websites drop the ball or miss the point, that's the sign of opportunity.
This situation is similar. Thanks to some surprising sweeps, there will be no NBA on Wednesday. It's practically an empty-net opportunity for the NHL to grab most of the attention for their deciding Game 7 between the Canadiens and Penguins on that night. They may not instantly become more popular than The Association overnight, but it's a start.
And maybe in the next couple of years, the NHL can start showing these games on a station most cable subscribes people actually receive.