- Scott Burnside, NHL
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If Hedberg gets the job done, then Hartley will look like a genius for having shaken his team out of whatever first-playoff daze they were in Thursday. If, however, Hedberg can't deliver the goods, how does he go back to Lehtonen whose confidence must be hurt having been yanked after his very first playoff start. Stay tuned.
Not a particularly good night for the NHL Thursday evening in terms of playoff interest. The Detroit Red Wings (don't they like to call themselves Hockeytown?) couldn't sell out their first game against Calgary, falling short by almost 900 according to the official attendance figures, which means actual bodies in the building were likely much fewer.
It was worse in that hockey-made state of New Jersey where the official attendance for the Devils series-opening win over Tampa Bay was listed at 14,495, which is 4,545 short of a sellout.
Just wondering, but what was the point of having all three New York area teams open on the same night of the playoffs? The Devils were the only one to open at home with the Rangers knocking off the Thrashers in Atlanta and the New York Islanders dropping their first game in Buffalo. But surely splitting them up a bit might have produced some more interest either in terms of television audience or attendees in New Jersey.
These discouraging attendance numbers follows on the heels of reports that Versus cut off coverage of the fourth overtime period in the wildly exciting Dallas-Vancouver opener for an infomercial in some markets. Nothing builds fan loyalty like that. It used to be an issue of whether fans could find the playoff games on Versus. Now it's an issue of whether fans get to see the whole thing.
Scott Burnside is the NHL writer for ESPN.com.
Scott Burnside takes us around the league to get the inside scoop thus far in the playoffs