In the Box: Blackhawks stay hot, Sens set record

USA TODAY Sports

Chicago remains a red-hot team in the ratings; the Senators set an all-time record.

In the Box is a somewhat regular feature on Puck the Media where we cover some of the stories that aren't necessarily big enough to warrant their own posts, but are within this site's jurisdiction.

*How hot are the Blackhawks? We'll talk about it in context in a bigger feature I have planned for Wednesday, but let's look at it this way: here are the top five highest-rated Blackhawks regular season games in the history of Comcast Sportsnet Chicago.

  1. Detroit vs. Chicago, 1/27/13 - 6.31
  2. St. Louis vs. Chicago, 1/22/13 - 5.40
  3. Chicago vs. Dallas, 1/24/13 - 5.13
  4. Chicago vs. Columbus, 1/26/13 - 4.39
  5. Vancouver vs. Chicago, 3/5/10 - 4.35
That's insanity. Four of the five highest-rated regular season games in the history of their regional sports network have happened in the last week! With the Hawks undefeated, the shortened season could make Chicago one of the league's highest-profile television markets. Who'd have thought we'd see this, when nearly 5 or 6 years ago the Blackhawks still didn't televise home games.

*Incidentally, look for large ratings for the next Blackhawks game against the Wild. It will be carried nationally by NBC Sports Network, and won't be blacked out in the Chicago market. With the Hawks as hot on TV as they've been since the advent of digital cable, and the Wild as hot as they've ever been in the Twin Cities, could that game draw enough national interest to match the 956,000 viewers NBCSN drew for last week's "Wednesday Rivalry" between the Rangers and Bruins? The regional audiences will be there, but it'll depend on whether or not folks outside those two markets deem the game worth their viewing time. I think the ratings will be big, but maybe not 956,000 big.

*The Ottawa Senators are as popular as they've been in quite some time. Their shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins drew 441,000 viewers. That's an all-time record for their regional television home, Sportsnet East. 1.6 million Canadians watched some portion of the game. The previous record was set on Jan. 17, 2012, when 335,000 viewers checked out the Sens and the Leafs.

*Announcers for this week's NBC games are what you'd expect: Dave Strader and Brian Engblom call Tuesday's Islanders-Penguins battle, while Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire call Wednesday's aforementioned Chicago-Minnesota showdown and Super Bowl Sunday's Pens-Caps meet-up, which will be the NBC Game of the Week.
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