Puck Daddy - NHL

So much for that whole "Canadian team dragging down the ratings" thing. Boston's got the NHL covered.

Sports Media Watch reports that Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks drew a 25.5 rating in Boston: "For some perspective, Game 1 of last year's Lakers/Celtics NBA Finals drew a 19.1 in the market."

Uh, wow. Hawkey Town, that one.

Steve Lepore of Puck the Media has the rest of the ratings story for Game 1, which NBC said are the best overnight numbers in 12 years:

NBC drew a 3.2/6 overnight rating for Game 1 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final last night. Those were the best numbers for a Game 1 since 1999, according to NBC, and up 14% from Game 1 of last year's Philadelphia/Chicago final. The game peaked during the 10:30-11:00 p.m. ET hour, when the game drew a 3.8/6 for Raffi Torres'(notes) game-winner with 18.5 seconds left.

The top-five metered markets: 1. Boston, 25.5/39; 2. Providence, 16.7/24; 3. Buffalo, 7.2/11; 4. Hartford, 5.5/8; 5. Pittsburgh, 4.3/7.

As usual, the numbers need context. The 1999 Game 1 between the Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars drew a 3.7 on FOX. From George Stahl of Armchair QB in 1999:

Fox's telecast of Buffalo Sabres' 3-2 overtime win over the Dallas Stars in game one of the Stanley Cup Finals received a 3.4 rating and 7 share, 3 percent above the rating for last year's game one between Washington and Detroit, which netted a 3.3/6.

The leading local market measured in the overnight ratings - Buffalo is not - was Dallas, of course, with a 26.6 ratings and 42 share. The only local market to ever score higher during Fox's five years with the NHL was Denver, which did it twice when the Avalanche played in the 1996 finals (28.3 and 26.7). Interestingly, the Stars former home, Minneapolis-St. Paul, scored that market's highest rating in five years of the NHL on Fox with a 5.5. The previous high there was a 3.9 for game one between Florida and Colorado in the 1996 finals.

Also, in context, there's a broadcast vs. cable issue. More from Lepore:

The network's broadcast of Game 1 between Boston and Vancouver drew 4.53 million viewers in primetime, up 5% from Game 1 in 2010, between Philadelphia and Chicago, which drew 4.34 mullion viewers on a Saturday night. It's also up a tick from Game 1 in 2009, which drew 4.51 million viewers on a Saturday night. Prior to that, every Stanley Cup Final opener since 1999 had aired on cable's ESPN or VERSUS.

Still, an incredible number for the NHL given the presence of a Canadian team. Take a bow, NHL, because this one is going to make the casuals take notice.

(And wipe your brow and exhale that Tampa didn't make the Final. Thanks again, Boston.)

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