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2011 NHL All-Star Game brings in big numbers for Versus, CBC


The 2011 NHL All Star Game’s format change received rave reviews and the city of Raleigh also drew its fair share of positive feedback, but to many, it’s all about the ratings. Luckily for the NHL, the weekend’s events produced great numbers in both the United States (on Versus) and Canada (on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada).

Note: the two most recent All-Star games took place this year and in 2009 because the 2010 version was eschewed to make room for the Olympics. Also note that most of these numbers are viewership averages rather than specific highs or lows.

Versus reports that Sunday’s game produced the highest rating for an all-star game in the network’s history of covering NHL games. Versus reports a 36 percent viewership increase (1,481,000 viewers in 2011 compared to 1,087,000 in 2009) and a 33 percent jump in household ratings. The network also saw significant increases among “key male demographics.”

The SuperSkills Competition was also a big success for VS, bringing in 1,183,000 viewers, the most-watched skills competition since ESPN covered the 2003 edition (1,127,000 viewers). The event drew 35 percent more viewers than ’09 and a 43 percent increase in household ratings. The unprecedented Fantasy Draft also did well for the network, bringing in 624,000 viewers.

The event was also a big hit in Canada on CBC. The All-Star Game itself jumped an outstanding 56 percent from ’09 (from 1,527,000 to 2,389,000). The skills competition actually did even better, though, as it attracted an average of 2,446,000 viewers while reportedly peaking at three million during two points in the telecast.

What might be the most surprising number is the Fantasy Draft rating for CBC, though: an average of 1.5 million people reportedly watched Cam Ward go first and Phil Kessel go last.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?