2010 Stanley Cup finals: Game 5 produces great ratings despite going up against NBA finals

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Sunday night was a double-edged sword for sports fans. On one hand, it was great to have two championship-level sporting events going on at the same time. Still, sports junkies also had to choose between Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals or Game 2 of the NBA finals.

While a big market, history-soaked match between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers brought in the greatest audience, the Philadelphia Flyers-Chicago Blackhawks match generated a big increase in ratings compared to last year’s Game 5.

The primetime portion of the NBA Finals Game 2 on ABC between the Lakers & Celtics scored a 5.0 adults 18-49 rating from 8-11pm. That was up 6% from the fast affiliate ratings last year’s Game 2 (Orlando Magic vs. LA Lakers), which posted a 4.7/14 from 8-11p in the Fast Nationals before rising to a 5.8/17 from 8-11:12p in the Finals.

The primetime portion of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals Game 5 on NBC between the Blackhawks & Flyers cored a 2.4 adults 18-49 rating from 8-11pm. That was up 33% from the fast affiliate ratings for last year’s Game 5 (Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Detroit Red Wings on Saturday 6/6/09), which posted a 1.6/6 in the Fast Nationals before rising to a 1.8/7 in the Finals.

Overall, it seems like ratings from the 2009 playoffs to this year’s playoffs have been up just about across the board. That’s pretty impressive for the NHL, especially considering the fact that last year’s Red Wings-Penguins series was such a star-packed affair. Also, as Steve Lepore of Puck the Media points out, the ratings improved compared to last year’s Cup finals Game 5 even though that match didn’t contend with a championship-level pro basketball game.

To some extent, the sport is still recovering from the lingering effects of the Obstruction Era and the fallout from the lockout. But with a wide-open game, plenty of star power and the hugely successful 2010 Vancouver Olympics pushing things forward, hockey continues to grow as a sport in North America.

Now, if these two teams could just make it to a Game 7 …

Goalie nods: Backups battle as Kinkaid faces Enroth

Los Angeles Kings goalie Jhonas Enroth, of Sweden, deflects a shot off the stick of a Colorado Avalanche player in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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The New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings prefer to lean on workhorse goalies Cory Schneider and Jonathan Quick respectively, but Sunday presents a change of pace.

In the Kings’ case, Jhonas Enroth is playing in part because of (what Los Angeles hopes is) a minor injury to Quick.

It’s true that the under-sized goalie sports a mediocre 4-4-1 record, but he’s given the Kings legitimate chances to win games considering his impressive (especially for a backup) save percentage of .925. Perhaps he can earn a few more reps if he plays well in what may be a tight game?

Speaking of earning more reps, Keith Kinkaid must continue to work to prove that he’s able to make the jump from AHL goalie to at least an NHL backup. The Kings aren’t likely to make it easy for him, either.

Elsewhere …

Avalanche at Sabres: Semyon Varlamov vs. Robin Lehner

Bruins at Red Wings: Possibly Tuukka Rask vs. Petr Mrazek

Blues at Lightning: Best guess – Brian Elliott vs. Ben Bishop

Flyers at Rangers: Steve Mason vs. (possibly) Henrik Lundqvist

Fight video: Someone other than Evander Kane beats up Alex Petrovic

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Bummed out on this holiday? Look on the bright side: at least you’re not as sore as Florida Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic likely is right now.

Not long after suffering three defeats at the hands/fists of Evander Kane, Petrovic likely lost another bout to Nashville Predators tough guy Anthony Bitetto.

(Note: some might consider this more of a draw, for what it’s worth. You can watch that latest fight in the video above.)

Hey, at least Bitetto didn’t taunt Petrovic after their fight …

It was a rough night for the Panthers overall, as they suffered a gruesome injury or two and fell to the Predators by a score of 5-0.

Outdoor game rumors: Jets host Oilers, Red Wings at Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings face off during the first period of the Winter Classic outdoor NHL hockey game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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Love is in the air on Valentine’s Day, and so are rumors about hockey fans bundling up for outdoor games next season.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman went over two possible outdoor matchups coming for 2016-17 during Saturday’s Headlines segment.

A smart move for a potential game in Winnipeg: Imagine the Jets hosting a game in Winnipeg in February? Ilya Bryzgalov almost turned off his TV in protest.

Instead, Sportsnet’s John Shannon reports that the Jets are likely to host the Edmonton Oilers in October. That would be a smart logistical move, as long as it isn’t too hot.

(Also, playing it then would hopefully increase the odds of the mainstream sporting public seeing Connor McDavid in an outdoor game.)

Toronto’s turn: Friedman reports that the Toronto Maple Leafs are likely to host the Detroit Red Wings in the 2017 Winter Classic (or at least an outdoor game), almost certainly on New Year’s Day 2017.

The two teams combined for a great Winter Classic at Ann Arbor in 2014, so that could be a fun time.

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Keep in mind these are reports (and well-placed ones at that) rather than official announcements for the NHL. These things could always change.

Related: Could the Penguins host the Flyers outdoors next season, too?

Ducks likely to recall Khudobin after Gibson injury

Chicago Blackhawks' Richard Panik (14), of Slovakia, collides with Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Chicago. Anaheim won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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“Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.

The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).

The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.

Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:

The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”

Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.