Following their dominant game seven win over the Philadelphia Flyers, the New York Islanders have a date set with the Tampa Bay Lightning for the right to represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals. Now the NHL has officially set those dates in stone for the best-of-seven series for the two teams.
Lightning fans may be relatively upset with the timing of one of those games, but more on that in a moment. Here is how the seven game series will play out;
Game One – Monday, September 7th – 8:00 p.m. – NBC Sports Network
Game Two – Wednesday, September 9th – 8:00 p.m. – NBC Sports Network
Game Three – Friday, September 11th – 8 p.m. – USA Network
Game Four – Sunday, September 13th – 3:00 p.m. – NBC
Game Five* – Tuesday, September 15th – 8:00 p.m. – NBC Sports Network
Game Six* – Thursday, September 17th – 8:00 p.m. – NBC Sports Network
Game Seven* – Saturday, September 19th – 7:30 p.m. – NBC
(*) – Games played if necessary
Yes, you read that right. Game four of the Eastern Conference Finals will be played at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 13th. For those of you that are also Buccaneers fans (or those of us that cover both teams for various outlets), you will be forced to either choose between the second half of the Lightning game or watch the debut of Tom Brady as the Buccaneers’ quarterback since the Bucs and New Orleans Saints will kick-off at 4:25 p.m.
Look, I get it – NBC wants to program NHL playoff hockey on their main network but can’t do it in prime time due to Sunday Night Football. By placing the Lightning and Islanders on NBC Sports Network at a normal time like 7:30 or 8:00, they’re competing with themselves for ratings. By putting it in the middle of the day against games broadcast on FOX and CBS, they are looking to draw fans away from the NFL and onto their product. However, that’s a pretty steep ask on week one of the NFL season, especially when those that have DirecTV and don’t purchase the Sunday Ticket package will have that week to watch every NFL game as well as the Red Zone channel.
Either way, Tampa fans are in a bit of a pickle for a game four contest for their beloved Bolts competing against a Bucs team that’s all the rage right now.
We will have a series preview coming up for you Monday morning right here at Bolts By The Bay.