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Updated: April 16th, 2014 9:47am
P.J.R.: Hockey-watching rules are waived for NHL's first round

P.J.R.: Hockey-watching rules are waived for NHL's first round

by Patrick Reusse
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I've always had rules for watching sports. This is an era when there is more great television and more sporting contests available than at any time. That makes the enforcement of the sports-watching rules crucial, if you're going to have time for "Game of Thrones'' and "True Detective'' and "The Bridge,'' etc.

The first rule is that all sports are better watched live if being played in a ballpark or an arena, and better watched on television if being played in a stadium, or on a course or track.

Two advances have modified the rules to some degree: A) HD has become the norm; and B) highlights from games coast-to-coast are available almost instantly.

Back in January 2009, I became a half-timer at the Star Tribune and full-timer on the radio, and this led to one of the finest changes in schedule that could occur for an old-time sportswriter:

I was no longer scheduled for the Monday edition of the newspaper. That meant I was no longer required to attend Vikings' game played on Sundays.

It was hard to imagine the joy of watching the NFL from the comfort of a TV den in Golden Valley, rather than joining the mob making its way to the Metrodome, and squeezing through the crowded corridors, and having your eyeballs hurt and ears bleed from the volume of the sound system.

And then three years ago, I discovered the grandeur of the NFL Red Zone, 6½ straight hours of all the important sequences from every Sunday game, and, Nirvana, I don't even have to watch the Vikings wall-to-wall anymore ... don't have to wait through the ads, the replays and the clichéd commentary.

If anything important is happening with the Purple, the Red Zone will bring it to me. Three greatest inventions in media history: A) the printing press; B) the Website, Baseball Reference; and C) NFL Red Zone.

Maybe I should throw in High Definition and make it four.

The dependence on HD has become so strong that I made the traumatic decision not to buy the baseball package for the first time since it became available on Comcast.

The one and only reason for the boycott: Comcast's MLB package might have eight, nine games going at once, but a small percentage are available in HD.

Don't give me any crapola about hooking up the MLB package from the computer and running it through the TV ... if I'm paying Comcast, I want them to give me full HD, period.

If not, I'll take the out-of-market games I can get on the MLB Network or ESPN - and then I'll check in on the MLB Network's highlight show to see what's happening, and hope against hope that Harold Reynolds isn't saying something idiotic.

My most established rules for sports watching on TV are for hockey. They are complex for watching an NHL game in the regular season, and not complex at all for watching a college game (unless it's the Frozen Four,  I don't).

NHL regular season: If a team is on a power play, I'll watch. If it's 5-on-5 but tied or a one-goal game, I'll watch for the last couple of minutes of the first or second period. If it's a two-goal game or closer, I'll watch the last four minutes of regulation.

Also: I'll watch 4-on-4 overtime, but I won't watch a shootout as a protest against the cheapness of the gimmick.

These rules do go out the window for the playoffs ... especially in the first round. My theory is the best the NHL has to offer comes in its first round. There are eight series, and a half-dozen of them are probably going to turn into butt kickers, and the players are rested and have their legs, and the favorites get all tensed up if they lose one of the first two at home, and we all know there's nothing better in sports than watching a pro team fighting to avoid a choke label against a bunch of underdogs.

Andrew Brunette was on The Ride with Reusse on Monday and he actually endorsed the idea that the first round of the playoffs was the NHL at its best, before I had a chance to bring it up.

And then throw in the possibility that you'll hear Doc Emrick (the best in any sport) on the call, and, yeah ... I waive my NHL-watching rules for the first round.

Heck, I've been known to watch seven, eight minutes in a row of 5-of-5 in the first round, which is hardcore hockey in my world.


Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He co-hosts SportsTalk from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. and hosts The Ride with Reusse from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. He also co-hosts "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Patrick | @1500ESPN_reusse | The Ride with Reusse
In this story: Andrew Brunette