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NBC broadcast team expects fast-paced Stanley Cup Final, high ratings

Eddie Olczyk said if goalies Corey Crawford and Ben Bishop are only average, there could be a bunch of 6-5 and 7-6 games in the Stanley Cup Final.

Mike Emrick never uses conventional descriptions. So while the game may be hockey, he referred to another sport in previewing the Blackhawks-Lightning Stanley Cup Final.

"It's going to be a track meet," Emrick said. "I don't think they'll have the shot put or the pole vault, but the rest of the events are going to be there."

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Emrick and his NBC partners, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire, are bracing for a fast-paced and potentially high-scoring series. Olczyk has firsthand experience with playing in a series in which the goal lamp got burned out. He was with the Blackhawks in 1985 when they lost 4-2 to the Oilers in the conference finals. There were 69 goals, the most for a six-game series.

"I was only a minus-4," said Olczyk, noting the Oilers scored 44 goals in six games.

Olczyk doesn't anticipate the goal record will be broken, but he said if the goalies, the Blackhawks' Corey Crawford and the Lightning's Ben Bishop, are only "average," there could be a bunch of 6-5 and 7-6 games in the finals.

"Both these teams have the ability to finish," Olczyk said. "A lot of players need eight, nine chances to get one goal. (Tyler) Johnson, (Steven) Stamkos, (Jonathan) Toews, (Patrick) Kane — those guys need one or two chances to score. Both teams want to play the same way, and it's going to lead to chances. It should be a lot of fun."

If the Hawks have one edge, it's in experience. They are playing in their third finals in six years, and many of the current players were on the 2013 Cup winner. This will be the first finals for most of the Lightning players.

McGuire said experience "definitely matters" going into Game 1. He recalled his experience as an assistant coach for the Penguins when they won back-to-back Stanley Cups.

"I remember being part of the '91 team in Pittsburgh and seeing what it was like the first time," McGuire said. "And then the second time around in '92, you were much better prepared to be part of it. So there's a little bit of a learning curve that you have to go through."

While McGuire praised the Lightning for beating three Original Six teams to get to the finals, he and Olczyk marveled at what the Hawks have achieved again during the postseason. In an age of deep parity in the NHL, they said it is no small feat for one team to be vying for its third Cup since 2010.

"It's all about the people and the leadership that they have every day," Olczyk said. "It's not just on the biggest stage, but it sure seems that when the biggest stage is there, they seem to be able to step to the forefront more times than not."

Ratings saver: NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood is thankful to be airing Hawks games in June again. The Chicago market will ensure strong ratings for the finals.

"We love that it's Chicago, the No. 1 hockey market, and the No. 1 brand in hockey across the entire country," Flood said.

Conflicted: Olczyk will miss Game 2 on Saturday. The avid horse player will be part of NBC's coverage of American Pharoah's bid to win the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes.

If the Rangers had beaten the Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals, Game 2 would have been in New York, allowing Olczyk to do both events. But his best-case scenario didn't happen.

"These are my two passions," Olczyk said of horse racing and hockey. "I'm just thrilled to be working and to be hopefully a part of horse racing history on Saturday. I'll be watching Doc and Pierre and the crew from New York on Saturday night."

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Key matchup: NBC hockey analyst Anson Carter thinks the opening minutes of Game 1 will be telling.

"When the puck gets dropped (Wednesday) night, we're going to see which matchup Coach (Joel) Quenneville respects the most," Carter said. "If Toews is out against Stamkos, we know that the Blackhawks are afraid of getting Stamkos going. If he has Toews against Tyler Johnson, then we know the Blackhawks are worried about the Triplets line and the damage they can do."

Cup wish: Emrick never plays favorites, but he does have one wish in the finals.

"The only thing I cheer for is that whoever wins is at home," Emrick said. "The (Stanley Cup) celebration is so much more magnificent when a home team wins it."

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