Boston, New York Solid, if Not Spectacular on Sunday

There are a few things that can be taken away from NBC’s Sunday telecast of the Bruins and Rangers. One is that, it would probably not be best to schedule a hockey game featuring two markets at the same time those two markets are playing each other in basketball on a competing network. However, on the good side, hockey performed to it’s normal levels without having the luxury of dominating it’s dependable local markets, meaning the sport is slowly, but surely gaining traction with completely neutral hockey fans.

We’ll go to the most upsetting news first, where the Rangers – first place in the Eastern Conference by a mile, with charismatic star players getting better and better – were absolutely trounced by the Knicks – a mediocre, patchwork bunch whose only draw is Jeremy Lin – in New York by a count of 9.6 for Knicks/Celtics on ABC to 1.9 for Bruins/Rangers on NBC. The only good news to take out of this: A 1.9 is a very solid number for New York as far as hockey goes. But, if you’re a New York fan with allegiances to both teams, you should be more than a little ashamed of yourself for rewarding mediocrity.

In Boston, things were a bit better. Beantown led all markets for the Game of the Week with a 5.1/12, an above average number for NBC in the market, and an improvement from the 4.6 the Bruins road game against Minnesota drew on Hockey Day in America. While a solid hockey team was still getting beaten by an aging, mediocre hoops counterpart (6.4/15 for Knicks/Celtics in Boston) the numbers were a little more stout. Overall, hockey did fine without carrying two of it’s most important markets on Sunday.

Leafs-Habs Draws Best Numbers in Canada This Season

Montreal and Toronto are often seen as Canada’s two most passionate hockey fanbases, and it didn’t hurt their rivalry game on Saturday that a somewhat surprising coaching change took place just 24 hours before to give it some more juice.

The Maple Leafs-Canadiens showdown, despite neither team being in the playoff picture at the moment (the Leafs are four points out, the Habs last in the East) drew 2.51 million viewers on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday, the best numbers CBC’s had for a game this season. It was also the best numbers for CBC since the November 20, 2010 game between Toronto and Montreal. Coverage of the game peaked at 9:30 p.m. ET with 3.37 million tuned in. 7.4 million viewers tuned in to some part of the game, nearly 20% of Canada.

The late game was helped by the big early audience, with the Buffalo Sabres blowout of the Vancouver Canucks still mustering an above average 1.17 million viewers at 10:00 p.m. ET. Aside from Hockey Day in Canada, it was the best audience for the late game since December 10th (CGY vs. EDM: 1.36 million).