Unless the Rangers beat the Blues on Thursday night and the Bruins on Sunday afternoon, there won't be much at stake when they take on the Islanders at the Garden next Wednesday. That doesn't mean there won't be a reason to watch the game, however.
MSG Network is planning to broadcast the game in 3-D, the first time any hockey game has been broadcast using the technology. At the moment the game will only be available to Cablevision subscribers or those who pay $20 to attend a viewing party at the Garden, where you'll also be able to rub dentures with Mark Messier and Ron Duguay among other Ranger legends with hairdos falling somewhere between the two of them.
To watch at home, you'll also need a 3-D compatible television, which aren't ubiquitous just yet, but the idea is a wise one. By starting the process now, MSG should be well-positioned for the time when 3-D televisions are the norm. That may seem a long way off, but it wasn't all that long ago that high definition televisions were struggling to gain a foothold in homes. ESPN is already planning to show this summer's World Cup in 3-D and it is certainly the next step for sports on TV.
No sport loses more in the transition from live to television than hockey and a fully immersive 3-D viewing experience could cut down that gap significantly. Games need to be shot and produced differently to take full advantage of the medium. Success would bring the home viewer a lot closer to the action on the ice and it's fun to imagine your wife ducking when a puck appears to be flying off the screen into your living room.
It might seem like a waste to put all of this effort into showing a Rangers-Islanders game that doesn't really amount to a hill of beans in the general scheme of things. If "Avatar" has taught us anything, though, it is that American audiences don't much care about the story when something is presented in three bright and shiny dimensions.