Your 2012 playoff ratings recap

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The 2012 Stanley Cup finals ended the playoffs with a bang. The Los Angeles Kings booted the New Jersey Devils in stunning fashion, pushing us all into the frightening hockey-less wilderness known as the off-season. The ratings for this year’s postseason are in, and for the most part, they’re strong.

NBC sent out a press release that runs down the ratings from both a big picture and more specific standpoint. Here are some of the most interesting bits:

  • With an average of 936K viewers between the games shown on NBC, NBC Sports Network and CNBC, the first round was the most-watched on record.
  • The same can be said of the second round (aka semifinals), with an average of 1.32 million viewers.
  • The combined first three rounds generated the best numbers in 15 years, with a 1.03 million viewer average.
  • NBC Sports Network’s ratings were up 12 percent from 2011, while NBC and NBC Sports Network (as a combination) saw a four percent improvement.
  • The Los Angeles Kings’ Cup-winning Game 6 triumph produced a 13.6 household rating, the highest on record in the market. Beyond that, Six markets set records for viewership on NBC Sports Network: Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York, Phoenix and St. Louis. Los Angeles, New York, St. Louis and Washington set NBC records as well.

Pretty good stuff, huh?

If you’re the type who likes to soak in the details, here are the round-by-round notes directly from the press release:

Round by Round:

CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS

• Averaged 936,000 viewers on NBC, NBC Sports Network and CNBC, making them the most-watched first round on record (cable data not available prior to 1994).

• Averaged 744,000 viewers on NBC Sports Network, making them the most-watched in NBC Sports Network (formerly VERSUS) history, up 16% vs. 2011 (642,000), and the highest on a cable channel in 11 years (ESPN, 745,000 in 2001).

• Averaged 2.57 million viewers on NBC, up 39% vs. last year (1.85). The most-watched Conference Quarterfinals on broadcast television since 1998 (2.76/FOX).

• Capitals-Bruins Game 6 on NBC averaged 3.5 million viewers, making it the most-watched Conference Quarterfinal game since the advent of Nielsen People Meters (1987).

• Washington did an 8.6 household rating, the best in the market on broadcast television for an NHL game since 2004.

• Capitals-Bruins Game 7 on NBC Sports Network averaged 1.32 million viewers, making it the most-watched first-round game on cable in 12 years (1.51/San Jose-St. Louis, Game 7 in 2000 on ESPN).

• It was also up 43 percent vs. last year’s comparable game (926,000; Washington-Montreal, Game 7) and was the most-watched first-round game in NBC Sports Network history.

CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS

• Averaged 1.32 million viewers across NBC, the NBC Sports Network & CNBC, up 28% vs. last year and best on record.

• Averaged 1.29 million viewers on the NBC Sports Network, up 43% vs. last year and best on record for a single cable network.

• Game 3 of the series between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals, which went to triple overtime, was watched by 1.85 million viewers on the NBC Sports Network and was the most-watched 2012 Conference Semifinal game on cable.

• In Washington, Rangers-Capitals Game 7 received a 7.7 household rating, up 18% vs. 2011. The game received the second-highest local rating ever in the market for a NHL game on the NBC Sports Network.

• In St. Louis, Blues-Kings Game 1 received an 8.1 household rating, the best in that market for an NHL game on broadcast television since 2004.

CONFERENCE FINALS

• Through three rounds, the 2012 Playoffs averaged 1.09 million viewers on NBC, NBC Sports Network & CNBC, making them the most-watched in 15 years (1.237 on FOX/ESPN/ESPN2 in 1997).

• The Western Conference Finals averaged 1.02 million viewers for the four games on NBC Sports Network, up 18 percent over last year’s Western Conference Finals (San Jose-Vancouver, 863,000). NBC Sports Network aired Games 1, 2, 3 and 5. NBC aired Game 4, averaging 1.4 million viewers, down slightly vs. last year (Vancouver-San Jose, 1.5 million).

• The Eastern Conference Finals averaged 1.39 million viewers on NBC Sports Network, down from 2011 (1.71 million).

• In New York, Game 5 of Rangers-Devils received a 6.47 household rating, the highest local rating ever in the market for an NHL game on NBC Sports Network.

• In Phoenix, Game 1 Coyotes-Kings received a 5.56 household rating, the highest local rating ever in the market for a NHL game on the NBC Sports Network.

STANLEY CUP FINAL

• The Cup-clinching Game 6 was the most-watched game of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final with 4.93 million viewers.

o NBC ranked first in Monday night primetime among broadcast networks in the advertiser-coveted M18-49 and M18-34 demos.

· In Los Angeles, the Cup-clinching Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final received a 13.6 household rating, the highest local rating ever in the market for a NHL playoff game on broadcast television on record (since 1976).

• In New York, Game 1 received a 5.1, the highest local rating in the market since 2003 for a NHL playoff game on broadcast television (10.1/Anaheim-New Jersey Game 7/ABC).

• For the entire series, NBC and NBC Sports Network combined to average 3.01 million viewers, down from last year’s 4.57 million average.

Report: Wings, Hawks, Preds in mix to sign ‘strong two-way center’ Ejdsell

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Keep an eye on Swedish forward Victor Ejdsell in the coming days.

Ejdsell, 21, caught the eye of several NHL clubs following a standout year with Bofors of the Swedish first division — including Detroit (where he visited earlier this week, per MLive.) Reports suggest that Chicago and Nashville are also interested in securing Ejdsell’s services.

It’s easy to see why.

He racked up 25 goals and 57 points in 60 games this year, and he’s got terrific size. At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, the physical presence is there to potentially make the shift to the NHL next season.

“He’s evolved into a strong two-way center,” Detroit assistant GM Ryan Martin told MLive. “His move from wings to center helped his defensive game. He’s got good hands and offensive ability.”

Vlasic joins Canada for Worlds, extending marathon campaign

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Marc-Edouard Vlasic is putting in work this year.

On Friday, Hockey Canada announced that Vlasic — along with Mitch Marner, Brayden Schenn and Chad Johnson — has been added to the 22-player roster for the upcoming World Hockey Championship in France and Germany.

Vlasic’s season started early as a member of Canada’s World Cup of Hockey squad. He appeared in all six games, which included his tournament high TOI (24:04) in final against Team Europe.

From there, the 30-year-old rejoined the Sharks and appeared in 75 contests, averaging 21:14 per evening. He was part of a remarkably durable San Jose defense that saw Brent Burns play all 82 games, while Paul Martin, Brenden Dillon and Justin Braun appeared in 81.

In the playoffs, Vlasic was once again a busy guy. He finished second only to Burns in time on ice (23:16 per) and was often tasked with trying to shut down the Connor McDavid line. The Sharks would eventually bow out to the Oilers in six games.

And Vlasic might have even more to do this summer.

During his end-of-year media availability, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said getting Vlasic signed to an extension prior to September’s training camp was a big priority.

Vlasic’s current deal — a five-year, $21.25 million pact — expires next summer, and carries an average cap hit of $4.25M. Wilson didn’t mince words in describing how good he thinks Vlasic is.

“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” he said. “Marc-Edouard is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”

Stepan: ‘I’ve stunk since the playoffs started’

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Derek Stepan knows he’s not playing very well, and he knows he’ll have to be better if the New York Rangers are going to make it past the Ottawa Senators.

With just one goal (an empty-netter) and one assist in seven playoff games, Stepan’s offensive production has fallen off a cliff after a respectable 55-point regular season, which included 38 assists.

“I’ve stunk since the playoffs started,” Stepan said, per NHL.com’s Dan Rosen. “I’ve been not very good with the puck.”

An all-situations center, Stepan is more than just an offensive type. But he’s produced in previous playoff runs, and the Rangers need him to produce now — especially against a tight-checking Sens team that boasts a 2.00 goals-against average in these playoffs.

Stepan has 45 points (18G, 27A) in 92 career playoff games.

To be fair, he’s not the only Ranger who needs to get going offensively. One of the Blueshirts’ big strengths during the regular season was their balanced scoring, with all four lines contributing — and that’s not happening right now.

No Bieksa for Anaheim tonight, but Vatanen could return

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The Ducks will be without their most veteran skater on Friday as they look to even up their series with Edmonton.

Kevin Bieksa, who exited Game 1 with a lower-body injury following a collision with fellow d-man Shea Theodore, has been ruled out for tonight’s Game 2. It marks the first tilt the 35-year-old will miss this postseason.

Bieksa was enjoying a pretty good playoff prior to getting hurt. He racked up four assists in five games, while averaging just under 17 minutes per night. Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle is holding out hope Bieksa could return later in the series.

While this is a loss for the Ducks, it goes a long way in illustrating how much defensive depth they have.

While Carlyle wouldn’t confirm, all signs point to Sami Vatanen drawing in for Bieksa. Vatanen has been out since Game 1 of the Calgary series with an upper-body injury, but has resumed practicing and sounds like he’s ready to go.

“It’s always nice when a player is closer to coming back and you can potentially put them back in the lineup,” Carlyle said of Vatanen.

Anaheim dressed a blueline of Bieksa, Theodore, Cam Fowler, Josh Manson, Hampus Lindholm and Brandon Montour in Wednesday’s 5-3 defeat. If Vatanen can’t draw in for Bieksa, the club still has Korbinian Holzer in reserve.