The knock on the NHL used to be that Canadian teams could not be a draw for American viewers. Well, the Boston-Vancouver Stanley Cup Final in 2011 put that idea to rest and this year, the all-Canadian first round series between the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators has totally blown that myth out of the water.

Twice, the Hab-Sens series has drawn the highest audience on NBCSN for this year’s postseason. Game 3 of the series garnered an average of 835,000 viewers which was the best audience of the early first round games. Then for Game 6 last Sunday, NBCSN saw an amazing 971,000 viewers for the series-clincher which again was the best audience-to-date.

In both instances, there was no other NHL Stanley Cup Playoff contest opposite Montreal-Ottawa allowing viewers to totally focus on the games.

At the beginning of the NHL postseason, NBCSN got off to a slow start with its opening night as Game 1 of the New York Rangers-Pittsburgh Penguins series drew a lower audience from Chicago-St. Louis which dropped the puck on last year’s playoffs.

In addition, NBC’s first weekend of the Stanley Cup Playoffs didn’t draw as well as last year as its game windows were down. However, for the second weekend, NBC’s primetime game rebounded, but the afternoon games were down as they were opposite the NBA Playoffs.

It appears that the playoffs are having a tough time gaining some momentum nationally, but at least locally, they’re doing well, New York and St. Louis saw increased ratings for their first round series.

Overall, it’s been a mixed bag for the NBC Sports Group for the first round and as one game remains before we move to the Conference Semifinals, at least two Game 7’s should help the ratings before we close the books on the Conference Quarterfinals.

UPDATE, 4:40 p.m.: Game 7 of the New York Islanders-Washington Capitals fared well on MSG Network according to Newsday’s Neil Best:

Nationwide, NBCSN had a decent number, but not as good as its Montreal-Ottawa viewership on Sunday:

[Sports Media Watch]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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