Because I have U-verse, that means I can’t get Center Ice (stupid AT&T). The one plus with U-verse is I get great internet bandwidth at home, which makes NHL Gamecenter an obvious choice. A bit more money than Center Ice with several more features. The big downside is obvious- you can’t crack a brew in front of the TV at home and watch Canes-Sens.
The live streaming is just ok. Not sure if it’s the server load or what, but I generally get better video performance with hulu or other video sites (admittedly that’s not live). The “Adaptive” streaming mode, which gives you tivo-like features as well as changing quality of video depending on your pipe, is a decent compromise. When the quality goes down, the video gets a bit more pixelated and the puck harder to follow, but at least the link stays up. If you aren’t in adaptive mode and the network slows, the whole video freezes for a moment or two, which gets infuriating very quickly. Adaptive mode also enables you to watch up to four games simultaneously. Click on the game you want to get the sound from that feed. It’s pretty intuitive. I don’t really use (or have a use for) the in-game features like chat and running stats, and even if I did they are overlayed on top of the video. Why would I want to block my own view with that crap?
The big benefit to getting NHL Gamecast is the games archive. You can get games all the way back to the 2007-2008 season, or games from just a few days ago. Because Tom asked in the last thread about the Pens, I watched their Thursday night matchup with the Kings.
The biggest annoyance with Gamecast is the way you access archived games. Across the top of the screen is the schedule, going back only a few days. That’s one way to access games that already happened. This is good, although I wish that scroll went back a week or more instead of a couple of days. The other way to access an old game is very backwards- you choose the team from a list, then the opponent, then the date. I want to choose a game by two different methods: by date, and by team then date. For instance, if I want to scout the Sharks opponent, I have to know who they played last (and the date) in order to watch that game. Dumb. You should be able to choose a team, then have that team’s schedule appear. Choose the game you want from the list. The other thing is, that backwards method is only for the games that don’t appear in the schedule on top. I tried to choose Pens-Kings from that list, by selecting Archive, then this season, the Pittsburgh, but LA wasn’t in the opponents list. Really dumb, and I almost just gave up then, figuring the archive wasn’t available yet.
Anyway, once you actually get into the archived game (assuming you found it), the video quality is great. You can even picture-in-picture (or multi-play) with other archived games. That is really sweet. One problem- if you switch to multi-game from single game, it starts the single game you’ve been watching over from the beginning. And there’s no way to skip ahead, except by 10-second increments. This almost makes multi-game archive viewing useless. Another thing- if I have the game paused for a while (to write parts of this post, for instance) sometimes the whole thing freezes up, and I have to start the game over again. Clearly, there’s room for improvement with NHL Gamecast. Overall grade: C+.
After all this playing around, I finally get around to watching the Kings-Pens contest on Thursday night. The Kings were on a major hot streak at the time, and continued it by beating the Pens 5-2, cracking the Pens perfect away record so far this year. This sounds like a beatdown, but in fact the Pens were up 2-1 until Kopitar tied it almost 7 minutes into the third. The go-ahead goal didn’t happen until there were less than 8 minutes left in the game. It was a pretty even matchup until then, with both goalies making very good saves. They had to because the D on both sides seemed a bit weak. The Pens did play without Malkin, Gonchar, and Tyler Armstrong. All three will probably be out tonight, and according to this, even Alex Goligoski is questionable. That’s huge. Goligoski has 13 points, only one behind Boyle, and has really stepped up with their top offensive defenseman (Gonchar) out. It’s been Letang and GoGo on their top PP unit, and they might have to put Brooks Orpik up there tonight.
The Pens top line is still very dangerous- Bill Guerin had a ton of chances against the Kings, and we all remember how annoying Chris Kunitz can be since he played with the Ducks. The second line is much easier to handle, with Staal used to playing with Kennedy and Cooke, now he might be playing with Fedotenko and Chris Bourque. I hope the Sharks can jump on that weakness, though they have injury troubles of their own. With Blake out, there is no defensive depth. Glad we get the last change tonight- if we get the wrong matchup against the top line, there could be trouble. And now with the news Pavs is back, and Crosby a bit banged up, I have to call a win for the Sharks.
In the “who cares” department, you may have heard the last podcast where we beat up on the Columbus announcers a little bit. The Pens announcers, Paul Steigerwald and Bob Errey (one-time Sharks captain) are on the opposite end of the spectrum. Great play-by-play and commentary, up there with Randy/Drew and Dan/Jamie. On the radio side, which I didn’t listen to, is the legendary Mike Lange, who always sounds like he smoked 10 cigars then swallowed a bag of charcoal right before the game starts. And he says stuff like “scratch my back with a hacksaw, he SCORES”. Can’t beat that.
We’ll see you tonight with our Dudes On Hockey shirts on. Come and say hi if you see us. Might I suggest a free beer to break the proverbial ice?