The 2014 NHL playoffs, which features a new playoff structure that puts an emphasis on early divisional matchups, has been very popular so far.
The first two days of the postseason featured seven games and the contests averaged 448,000 viewers on NBCSN/CNBC. That’s up 43% from 2013 when an average of 313,000 viewers per game (six contests total) tuned in to see the first two days of playoff action.
Not surprisingly, the St. Louis Blues’ 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in triple-overtime was a big draw as 697,000 average viewers watched the game. It ranks second on the all-time list of NBCSN first round Game 1s, behind the opener of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in 2012 (that game drew 844,000 viewers).
The contests have also been popular on NBC Sports Live Extra. Among authentication-required NHL games, the Blues-Blackhawks contest attracted a record 161,000 live starts.
WATCH LIVE: Detroit Red Wings at Boston Bruins (Game 1)
WATCH LIVE: Montreal Canadiens at Tampa Bay Lightning (Game 2)
Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.
Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.
This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.
“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”
While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”
And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.
Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.
In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.
Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks
A statement from Raffi Torres:
“I accept the 41-game suspension handed down to me by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. I worked extremely hard over the last two years following reconstructive knee surgery to resume my NHL career, and this is the last thing I wanted to happen. I am disappointed I have put myself in a position to be suspended again. I sincerely apologize to Jakob for the hit that led to this suspension, and I’m extremely thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured as a result of the play. I also want to apologize to my Sharks teammates and the organization.”
A statement from San Jose GM Doug Wilson:
“The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision regarding Raffi. While we do not believe there was any malicious intent, this type of hit is unacceptable and has no place in our game. There is a difference between playing hard and crossing the line and there is no doubt, in this instance, Raffi crossed that line. We’re very thankful that Jakob was not seriously injured as a result of this play.”
Silfverberg says he expects to play Saturday when the Ducks open their regular season Saturday in San Jose.