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Playoffs Building League-wide Momentum

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators
HISTORY WAS MADE: ROUND 1 OF 2011 NHL STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS CONTINUES LEAGUE MOMENTUM BY REACHING NEW HEIGHTS

History was made, on and off the ice, in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The National Hockey League, on the heels of announcing the most significant media rights deal in its history, continues to reach new heights across multiple platforms while earning praise from fans and critics alike.

One of the most exciting and compelling Conference Quarterfinal rounds in Stanley Cup Playoff history, highlighted by nine straight days of overtime games, four Game 7s (the most in the first round in 16 years), and 49 total games (tied for the most ever), led to ratings increases and milestones at both the national and local levels, along with record Internet traffic on NHL.com. The first round, which the New York Times hailed as a round “that had everything,” and a “tough act to follow,” also scored in-arena with every arena at 100 percent capacity, achieving an all-time record for average attendance for the first round.

VERSUS achieved the highest U.S. cable viewership for the first round in 17 years, dating back to the 1994 postseason, while on the broadcast side, NBC scored the best U.S. network opening-round audience in seven years. In Canada, CBC’s coverage recorded the best opening round viewership in history, ahead of the previous best in 2004 when five of the six Canadian teams made the playoffs.

NHL.com also benefited from the on-ice excitement, with April scoring the most unique visitors in any one month in the site’s history, up 32 percent over April 2010 and up 47 percent over 2010-11 monthly average. Wednesday, April 27, earned the third most unique visitors to NHL.com with two Game 7s being played.

In the U.S., some of the NHL markets with significant increases in unique visitors for the first round of the playoffs are: Tampa (+111 percent); Nashville (+81 percent); Atlanta (+38 percent); New York (+37 percent); Buffalo (+36 percent); Chicago (+36 percent); San Francisco/San Jose (+30 percent); Philadelphia (+28 percent); Los Angeles (+31 percent); Washington D.C. (+27 percent); and Detroit (+24 percent). In Canada, five of the six NHL markets have achieved double-digit traffic growth.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING:
“I've been covering the playoffs since '81, and I can't remember a first-round series that had that kind of emotion." - Veteran TSN analyst Bob McKenzie

"The NHL's slogan for the Stanley Cup playoffs is, History Will Be Made, a maxim that has never been more true than during this year's first round." – Sports Illustrated

"Year after year, especially over the past decade, the Stanley Cup playoffs teach us one paramount lesson: Expect the unexpected." – ESPN.com

“There is no way the second round can be as exciting as the first. Is there?” – New York Times

“It doesn't feel like a stretch to say that was the best first-round playoff game in NHL history.” – Globe & Mail on Chicago-Vancouver Game 7

“The quality of play throughout round 1 has been almost universally high. We’ve been treated to some very exciting hockey so far and that shows no signs of changing.” – Huffington Post

"Every NHL playoff game now is like a fundamentalist revival or something, every row of the upper and lower bowls converted into pews where the worshipers all wear white (Phoenix), orange (Philly), red (Detroit, Washington), white (Pittsburgh) or black (Boston). The games aren’t games anymore in the playoffs, they are full-on Events." – Denver Post

“The first round of the 2011 NHL playoffs was quite possibly the best in the history of hockey. Comebacks, overtime intrigue, the typical wars of words, goaltending problems. It really had everything.” – SB Nation

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