Webcast in game plan for NHL on NBC


NEW YORK -- When NBC Sports begins its second season of NHL telecasts on Saturday, it will start even sooner on the Web.

The network will debut a 30-minute pregame webcast on NBCSports.com called "NHL on NBC Faceoff" at 1:30 p.m. EST. It will begin live from the 30 Rockefeller Center ice rink with studio hosts Bill Clement, Ray Ferraro and Brett Hull, then travel to the sites of the three games NBC will televise on a regional basis. There will be interviews with the team's stars plus views of players warming up on the ice.

"It's almost like going to batting practice in baseball," NBC Sports coordinating producer Sam Flood said.

The last 10 minutes of the webcast will be back at 30 Rock with the announcing trio, who will talk about the hockey issues of the day as well as feature pee-wee hockey players on the ice at the NBC rink.

The format is an extension of something NBC Sports did last year with Notre Dame football -- live broadband programming that gives fans a deeper view and looser feel than the strictures of TV.

"It gives you the room to have fun," Flood said. "Because as you know, everything is so tight in the regular telecast that we have basically a blank slate or 30 minutes on the Web."

The broadcast will begin at 2 p.m., though the webcast will simulcast the next 10 minutes, which will include less than three minutes from the 30 Rock set and, on Saturday, an interview with Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby with inside-the-glass analyst Pierre McGuire. The puck drops at 2:10 p.m.

This week, NBC will carry the Pittsburgh Penguins-Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins-New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings-St. Louis Blues games.

NBCSports.com's hockey coverage will continue after the opening faceoff, with McGuire doing a three- or four-minute analysis after the first period and later squaring off with fellow analyst Eddie Olczyk.