Chicago Blackhawks v St. Louis Blues - Game Two

A lot of people are watching the 2014 NHL playoffs on NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, and on the internet


Is that headline too long?

Whatever. Here are some highlights from an NBC Sports Group press release:

— NBCSN is averaging 621,000 viewers (10 games), up 61% vs. 2013 (386,000 for 10 games).

— On NBC, Saturday’s Game 2 of the Blackhawks-Blues series averaged 1.855 million viewers, up 52% from the comparable game in 2013 (NYR-Was, 1.217 viewers, 5/4/13).

— Through the first five days, NBC Sports Live Extra’s live streaming coverage of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs has delivered 18.8 million minutes, 206,000 unique viewers, 508,000 visits and 1.22 million live starts. Those figures are up 532% (2.98 million minutes), 482% (36,000 uniques), 469% (89,000 visits), and 739% (145,000 live starts), respectively, vs. the first five days of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Meanwhile, in other NBC Sports Group news, Johnny Weir is going to be part of this year’s Kentucky Derby coverage.

He will probably wear a big, fun hat.

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?

Goalie nods: Jones makes Sharks debut against ex-Kings mates

Martin Jones
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News and notes from around the crease…

Jones goes for San Jose

Martin Jones, acquired by the Sharks this summer, will make his first regular-season start for the club tonight against his old team — the Los Angeles Kings.

Jones, 25, spent the last two years in L.A. as Jonathan Quick‘s understudy. He was flipped to Boston at the NHL Entry Draft, then shipped to San Jose. Sharks GM Doug Wilson wasted little time locking Jones in — signing him to a three-year, $9 million extension — and Jones wasted little time locking up the No. 1 gig, putting together a stellar preseason.

For the Kings, Quick will get the start in goal.

Markstrom out for Vancouver

Jacob Markstrom wasn’t scheduled to start for the Canucks tonight — No. 1 Ryan Miller is getting the call — but the Swedish ‘tender won’t even dress when his club takes on the Flames in Calgary.

Markstrom suffered a lower-body injury at practice this week and is being held out of tonight’s action. In his place, the Canucks called up AHL netminder Richard Bachman, who’ll serve as Miller’s backup.

For the Flames, Karri Ramo is the opening-night starter.


Habs at Leafs: Carey Price vs. Jonathan Bernier

Rangers at ‘Hawks: Henrik Lundqvist vs. Corey Crawford