The Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins advanced to the NHL Stanley Cup Conference Semifinals, and on the way, both clubs did extremely well in the ratings in their local markets. In the Penguins-Islanders series, Root Sports averaged a record 21.3 rating for the six games, with a 23.3 rating in Game 6 setting the high watermark for a first round playoff game on Root and clocking in at the third-highest rated playoff game ever on the network.
Not to be outdone, the Bruins' thrilling Game 7 win over the Maple Leafs drew a 16.8 rating on NESN, which was actually down 14% from 2012 (Bruins-Capitals, 19.6) and down 5% from 2011 (Bruins-Canadiens-17.7). Still, it's the third highest rated game on NESN, behind just the two aforementioned games. The Rangers also drew a 4.5 rating for their Game 7 win over the Capitals on MSG, down 22% from 2012 (Rangers-Senators, 5.7), but it's the second-best rating since 1997 for a Rangers game on MSG.
With the Bruins and Rangers squaring off in Game 1 of the Semis on Thursday, NBC Sports Network likely expected big ratings…and they got them. Game 1 picked up 1.6 million viewers, the highest ever total for a second round opener on the network. Locally, the game drew a 13.1 rating in Boston, the best ever for a second round game on NBC Sports Network. The New York ratings slagged a bit behind though, drawing just a 3.39, but Game 5 of the Pacers-Knicks series picking up an 8.4 rating on TNT in the same timeslot likely pulled viewers away.
So far in the East, it's a grand ol' time for the NHL. With the Penguins holding a 2-0 series lead on the Senators, it's looking more and more like the league is going to have a rabid American market coming out of the East, unlike last season when the Devils won the conference and averaged the lowest ratings and viewership for the Finals since 2007.