NEW YORK -- The National Hockey League just completed a record October that saw more fans attend and tune in to games than ever -- while being treated to close games, more scoring and some spectacular individual performances.
Among the highlights from the season's opening month, which began with the Premiere Games in Stockholm and Prague:
October Attendance Records
The per-game attendance average of 17,388 and the percent of capacity (94.1%) set NHL records. It was the first time in League history that average October attendance surpassed 17,000 per game. October's total attendance was up 3.1% over October, 2007. Leading the way were dramatic percentage increases in Chicago (+71%) and Washington (+24%).
Goal-Scoring on the Rise
The 149 games in October averaged 5.9 goals per game, up three percent from the 5.7 of October, 2007. While the number of power-play goals was virtually the same (265 in 2008 vs. 264 in 2007), the 588 even-strength goals represented a six-percent increase from the 555 in October, 2007.
Close Games a Staple of October Menu
The number of overtime games during the month almost doubled from a year ago. Of the 149 games, 40 (or 27%) required overtime or shootout to determine a winner compared to 21 such games in October, 2007.
21 games were decided in a shootout, up 91% from the 11 shootout games in October, 2007.
Of October's 149 games, 70 featured lead changes -- up 25% from the 56 such games last October. There were 14 third-period comebacks during the October schedule, up 75% from the eight in 2007.
Hockey Night in Canada's October schedule of games saw a 12% increase in ratings, TSN's rating were up five percent while unprecedented interest in the Montreal Canadiens resulted in a 23% increase in October ratings for RDS. October ratings for games on VERSUS produced a five-percent increase in the number of viewers. Of the 30 teams, 21 had local ratings that were up from, or on par with, a year ago.
Fans Watching Live Games Online In Record Numbers
In October, the NHL unveiled NHL GameCenter Live, its new interface for watching NHL games live online. Fans cheered its innovation, and for October, the League increased its subscriber base nearly 270 percent year-over-year.
More Web Traffic
The number of unique visitors to NHL.com in October 2008 was up 7% month-to-month over last year -- despite six fewer regular-season days than October, 2007.
Consumer Products and Retail
Sales of NHL-licensed product on NHL.com for October 2008 increased 26% compared to the same period last year.
Postcards from Europe
The New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators combined for an October record of 22-14-7 after opening the season in Europe. The Rangers mounted a 10-2-1 October record and led the League with 21 points.
* Tim Thomas became the first Boston goaltender with consecutive shutouts since 1998-99 (Byron Dafoe, April 3-5) and only the second goaltender in NHL history to record consecutive 1-0 shutouts (Florida's Craig Anderson, March 2-4, 2008). Thomas had his shutout streak stopped at 154:43 in a 3-2 loss to Calgary on Oct. 30.
* Ryan Getzlaf assisted on all five goals by the Anaheim Ducks in their 5-4 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 29. In the last 11 seasons, the only other NHL player to record five assists in one game and assist on every goal scored by his team in that game was defenseman Alexandre Picard for the Flyers in a 6-5 overtime loss to the Devils on Feb. 1, 2007. The last player before Getzlaf to do that in a game his team won was Doug Gilmour for the Maple Leafs in a 5-3 victory over the Flames on Jan. 22, 1997.
* Teemu Selanne's hat trick for Anaheim on Oct. 29 against Detroit was the 21st of his career, the most by any active NHL player and second-most all-time among European-born players, behind Jari Kurri's 23.
* Dallas Stars rookie Fabian Brunnstrom became only the third player in NHL history to record a hat trick in his NHL debut, helping the Stars to a 6-4 win over the Nashville Predators on Wednesday at American Airlines Center. Alex Smart scored three times in his debut for Montreal in 1943, and Real Cloutier matched the feat with Quebec in 1979.
* Ottawa's Filip Kuba was the first defenseman in NHL history with assists in each of his team's first eight games of a season, breaking the record of seven games set by Brad Park with the Bruins in 1981-82.