News and notes from NBC's Olympics coverage

Published February 21, 2010

| AP

NEW YORK (AP) — A look at NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics:

BIG SHOT: Can a single play — a solid hit — determine the direction of an entire Olympic ice hockey tournament? NBC's analysts think so, and it's worth putting them on record to see if it turns out they're right.

It's early in the third period of Russia's victory Sunday against the Czech Republic, the Russians holding on to a 2-1 lead. Czech skater Jaromir Jagr has the puck around center ice, and he's decked by fellow NHL star Alex Ovechkin. The Russians grab the loose puck. A couple passes and a shot later, and it's 3-1.

"Ovechkin has just swung the entire momentum of this tournament with this play against Jaromir Jagr," NBC's Pierre McGuire said, as the network replays the crunching blow several times.

His partner agreed: "You talk about turning the tide of the Olympic games in one play," said Eddie Olczyk. "You just saw it there in seven seconds."

They speculated about the Czech players being shaken up by the hit, and whether one of them thought about retaliation so he moved slightly out of position, enabling an easier path to the goal for Russia.

For the rest of the game, that prediction played out. The Czechs closed to within 3-2 but couldn't tie it even after removing their goalie to put more pressure on. An empty netter made the final score 4-2.

ICE MELT: You've got an afternoon audience for a hockey game, presumably largely male, so how do you promote a prime-time schedule heavy on ice dancing? How about calling it the "hottest thing on ice," with slow motion shots of beautiful women in tights, and one male dancer resting his head between his partner's breasts? Now you're talking!

BEAR HUNT: NBC paid to send Lester Holt and a crew to northern British Columbia, and he returned with some gorgeous footage of bears in the wild. Then they gave his report about a minute and a half. Hope there's more.

RATINGS: NBC is nothing if not consistent. Saturday's telecast, featuring medal skates by Shani Davis and Apolo Anton Ohno, was seen by an average of 26.7 million people. That's a half million more than the audience for last Saturday night.

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