Kenny Albert had called 12 NHL playoff games in the previous 14 days through Tuesday. By his degree-of-difficulty standards, that makes May a breeze so far.
“It’s all been in the same time zone, so it’s actually been somewhat easy,” the Rangers radio and Turner TV announcer said Wednesday before boarding a flight to Raleigh for Game 5 of Rangers-Hurricanes on Thursday.
Albert has performed some memorable playoff acrobatics in the past, most famously in 2014 when his TV and radio work had him bouncing among Los Angeles, Montreal, Chicago and New York during the conference finals.
He spent the early parts of the current second round alternating between Rangers radio against the Hurricanes and Turner’s coverage of Lightning-Panthers — missing only Game 3 of the Rangers series because of a direct conflict on Sunday.
Then, a plot twist: Tampa Bay swept the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Panthers, and Albert suddenly found himself temporarily with only one job.
He will work Games 5 and 6 of the Rangers-Panthers series and probably Game 7 if it is necessary, pending scheduling variables.
Not that he was rooting for a Lightning sweep. Sweeps are bad for TV networks, and he works for one. But did he allow himself to consider such thoughts, given how much easier a sweep would make his life?
“I guess I’m like the coaches; you just take it one game at a time,” he said.
After Tampa Bay won Game 3 on Sunday, though, he admitted to thinking, “Well, if they do sweep, then I'll be flying back home on Monday. I think it was Monday. It's hard to keep track. Maybe it was Tuesday. Yesterday was Tuesday, right?”
Albert, 54, was a fixture on NBC during its long run carrying the NHL and said the transition to Turner has been eased by all the familiar faces from NBC — including his on-air partners Ed Olczyk and Keith Jones.
(Albert called Jones’ first goal in pro hockey with the 1991-92 Baltimore Skipjacks of the AHL.)
“It doesn't feel that much different for us as far as calling the games,” he said, “but the interaction with the studio show, I think Turner did a terrific job putting together that cast.”
Albert praised MSG Networks executives for flexibility in working around his national TV duties during the season, as they have done with Islanders announcer Brendan Burke, who is on the Western Conference series between the Avalanche and Blues for Turner.
On radio, Albert works with Dave Maloney, another familiar partnership. He said the current Rangers remind him of the team’s long playoff journeys in 2012, ’14 and ’15.
“It’s brought back a lot of memories from those deep runs,” Albert said. “There are so many similarities. The goaltending with [Henrik] Lundqvist then and [Igor] Shesterkin now, and scoring key goals in key moments, coming back from 3-1 against Pittsburgh and Washington in those two years.
“So even though there's only one player [Chris Kreider] left from those teams, there are a lot of parallels to those runs and this one so far.”
If the Rangers reach the Eastern Conference finals and ESPN carries that series, which seems likely, and with the Oilers or Flames destined for the Western Conference finals on Turner . . . would Albert attempt to work both series?
“Edmonton to New York I think would be too crazy, the back and forth, even for me, even with my past history,” he said. But he did not rule anything out, citing scheduling, matchup and logistical variables to be determined.
“It’s really hard to forecast what's going to happen,” he said. “We don’t even know if we're going to have the East or the West . . . But yeah, Edmonton to New York on back-to-back days would be pretty rough.”