Vancouver Day 14: Canada-Russia blowout still delivers
Had Wednesday's Canada-Russia hockey showdown been in contention after the first period, it could have threatened the all-time ratings record.
But even though the outcome was pretty much decided before the first intermission, it still averaged 10.5 million viewers according to BBM Canada overnight ratings. That's 100,000 below the all-time sports record, set Sunday when Canada met the U.S.
A total of 21.6 million Canadians watched at least some of the game, with many no doubt finding better things to do when they saw the score.
The game peaked at 13.3 million and did provide a huge audience for women's bobsled: an average of 3.6 million and a peak of 8.2. Statistics aren't available, but it's believed to be the largest bobsled audience ever. (That's a joke, if you're wondering.)
Hockey pushed Wednesday's prime-time average to 6.7 million, second highest of the Games.
Coverage of the big game was, not surprisingly, excellent. The hype was kept to a minimum if you don't count Darren Pang's claim that this was the kind of game that defines careers. How many of those games are there?
A great moment came just before the game started when CTV showed Team Canada taking the ice to a raucous welcome, letting the crowd sounds tell the whole story.
Chris Cuthbert was excellent and analyst Pierre McGuire was sharp. He told viewers early that despite having the last change, the Russians were getting bad match-ups. ``I don't understand the mindset," he said. ``If they don't change that match-up, they're going to get lit up like a Christmas tree."
He also showed how the Russians' attempts to work the stretch pass were opening up big holes for Canada's offence.
Good line from Nick Kypreos, who had said the Russians needed to change goaltenders after the first period. When James Duthie pointed out that Russian coach Slava Bykov was 26-1 at the world championships, Kypreos rebutted, ``In that one loss, I guarantee you he left the goalie in too long."
THE GOOD: I'm pretty sure Rob Faulds hadn't called one minute of bobsled action prior to going to the CTV-Rogers boot camp last summer, but he has emerged as one of the best announcers at the Games. His call of the women's bobsled Wednesday was superb, especially considering that he's working with inexperienced analysts. Chris Lori tries too often to be the play-by-play guy and Christina Smith, well, let's just say she should reduce her caffeine intake. ... Kevin Quinn has also done a great job calling women's hockey. ... Those curling microphones picked up a great moment in Thursday's Canada-Switzerland semifinal when the Swiss coach, a Canadian, address the team in the 10th end. ``If you can make this shot, we can win this game right now," he told them. Of course, if he'd been speaking in Swiss, it would have been lost. ... Great curling moment: CTV cameras showed Swedish players, having just beaten China in the semifinal, moving the stones back into place. As Vic Rauter noted, just like would at a club tournament. ... Great TV team: Michael Landsberg and skier Kelly Vanderbeek. If they don't get their own show, she should at least be a regular on Off The Record. ... NBC's Mike Milbury on Alexander Ovechkin's disappearing act in Wednesday's Canada-Russia game: ``This was a superstar who wasn't ready for this situation."
THE BAD: The CTV guys did a great job of juggling all those medals amid a hockey game Wednesday night, but come midnight (Eastern time) turned into pumpkins in one instance. As Sweden and Slovakia battled to see which team would play Canada in the men's hockey semifinal, viewers were taken to Whistler for Jennifer Hedger's interview with Canada's winning bobsledders. We'd seen an interview with them a couple of hours earlier and this didn't add much more than the sight of cheering throngs in Whistler. Surely this could have waited until intermission. ... Those ads with the talking cars were mildly amusing the first 10 times they ran. Since then, the most annoying Olympic ads of all. Among the best, those Leon's sofa ads. ... At the risk of repeating myself (I know, way too late) podium is not a verb. Never has been, never will be in spite of what we hear almost every night. ... Trip back in time: At about 5:30 today, CTV aired a promo for the women's curling semifinal, which finished about three hours beforehand.