Penguins-Flyers game produces best regular season ratings in NBC Sports Network history

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Yesterday’s action-packed Wednesday Rivalry Night game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins produced a .55 household rating, the highest regular season mark in NBC Sports Network history.

That 6-5 Flyers win also drew the second highest average of viewers in the network’s history, only following another Wednesday Rivalry Night game (Boston Bruins-New York Rangers on Jan. 23) for the top spot in that category. Wednesday Rivalry Night has clearly been a hit so far, as the short-running special claimed four of the five regular season averages for viewership in NBC Sports Network history:

Rangers-Bruins, Jan. 23, 2013: 956K viewers
Flyers-Penguins, Feb. 20, 2013: 901K viewers
Flyers-Bruins, Oct. 6, 2011: 874K viewers (the only game on this list that wasn’t a Wednesday Rivalry Night match)
Blackhawks-Wild, Jan. 30, 2013: 827K viewers
Bruins-Canadiens, Feb. 6, 2013: 771K viewers

NBC Sports Network was the highest rated channel in Pittsburgh and the top-rated cable network in Philadelphia during the game.

This is all impressive stuff, especially since there have only been five weeks of Wednesday Rivalry Night so far. Perhaps that series will take all of the top five spots by the end of the 2013 season?

(All information via an NBC press release.)

Fight video: Flyers’ Manning vs. Penguins’ Gaunce

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Breaking: the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers don’t like each other.

The stakes might be higher for the Penguins than the Flyers – aside from those who still believe Philly has a shot at a playoff run – their rivalry rarely subsides.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Sunday featured at least one fight, with Cameron Gaunce squaring off against Brandon Manning in a pretty spirited bout.

Manning isn’t shy about fighting, by the way; this was his seventh bout of the season, according to Hockey Fights.

Higher on the radar for the Penguins is the situation for Conor Sheary, who has been absent from the ice since about midway through the first period. PHT will keep an eye out for updates on what could be yet another injury for the health-challenged Pens.

Dreading the work week? Watch this dog get ‘ice time’ with puck

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Life is difficult, complex and confusing. Good thing we have dog videos.

Forgive this video being one night late, but for those of us who watch cute animal clips, time is a furry circle. Or something like that.

Anyway, this golden retriever got a little “ice time” before the Washington Capitals’ game against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday in what would end up being a 4-1 win for the Caps. It’s an excellent video featuring a top-notch, hilarious pooch.

Alternate joke: Now that is some puck retrieval.

Patrik Laine’s out sick for Jets on Sunday

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Patrik Laine and Auston Matthews are locked with identical goals (34), assists (27) and points (61) on Sunday, which is remarkable since Laine has played in 67 games versus 75 for Matthews. He won’t get a chance to beef up his numbers on Sunday, either.

It looks like the high-scoring rookie is missing the Winnipeg Jets’ contest against the Vancouver Canucks because of an illness, according to TSN’s Sara Orlesky.

The Jets are almost assured to miss the playoffs, so seeing Laine lose a chance to bolster his Calder argument adds a little extra sadness to the night.

NHL schedules hearing for Micheal Haley’s sucker-punch on Calle Jarnkrok

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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced a Monday hearing for San Jose Sharks tough guy Micheal Haley for his “roughing/sucker punch” on Calle Jarnkrok of the Nashville Predators.

The league didn’t specify if Haley will face a telephone or in-person hearing on Monday afternoon. They did, interestingly, use the phrase “sucker punch” in that official announcement.

Haley received a match penalty during the game. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer was highly upset about the hit that inspired Haley’s actions.

“When you run someone from behind in a game like that, you probably deserve to get a punch in the mouth,” DeBoer told reporters.

In other bad news for the Sharks, CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz reports that Logan Couture‘s situation isn’t looking promising after he was hurt on Sunday.