NBC’s opening day coverage posts best regular season ratings since 2002


The wounds of the lockout might persist, but NBC’s opening day ratings shows that NHL fans are aware that hockey is back.

NBC’s NHL regional two-game coverage (Chicago at Los Angeles and Pittsburgh at Philadelphia) earned a 2.0 overnight rating, which earned some impressive milestones if you exclude Winter Classic telecasts:

  • That mark represents the best NHL regular season game rating on any network since 2002.
  • Logically enough, that means it’s the highest-rated regular season contest since NBC took over NHL coverage in 2006.
  • This represents a 67-percent increase from last season’s average for NHL-on-NBC telecasts and an 82-percent increase from the most comparable weekend (Chicago at Detroit on Jan. 14, 2012) from 2011-12.
  • Chicago (6.6 rating), Philadelphia (7.8) and Pittsburgh (19.4) enjoyed record regional regular season ratings. Los Angeles’ 1.5 mark is the best in that market since March 4, 2007.
  • Buffalo (6.6) and Boston (2.5) rounded out the top five markets.

Hopefully fans stick around for more coverage during this shortened season. Speaking of which, the Buffalo Sabres currently host the Philadelphia Flyers on NBC as of this writing.

Sabres place Lehner on IR; Recall Lieuwen

Connor Brown, Robin Lehner
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They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.

The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.

In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.

Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.

The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.



Chara ‘doubtful’ for game against rival Canadiens

Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara
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It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.

Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.

Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.

“Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”

Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: