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Good ratings news for NHL, NBC

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Granted, the May sweeps ended and the summer television doldrums are upon us, so many network programs are in reruns. Plus, Saturday night has become a true dead zone for network television. Taking all of that into consideration, though, NBC and the NHL have to be happy with the ratings for the first two games of the Pittsburgh-Detroit Stanley Cup finals rematch...despite what the Associated Press would have you believe.

Saturday's Game 1 had a 2.6 rating and a 5 share, and Sunday's ratings improved, getting a 3.5/6 with an estimated 5.3 million viewers. (Since the Sunday numbers are overnight numbers, the final numbers may vary.)

Strangely enough, the AP seems to think ratings are down:

Television ratings for Game 1 of the Red Wings-Penguins Stanley Cup finals rematch were down from last year's levels. The NBC telecast drew a 2.6 rating and a 5 share. That's compared with a four-game NBC average of a 3.2 rating and a 6 share one year ago.

This article rightly takes the AP to task. The average for the series last year was skewed by the final game, which had a 4.0 rating and 6.8 million viewers, the most-watched NHL game in five years. A better comparison would be to compare it to last year's individual game ratings -- 1.8 for 2008 Game 1 and 1.9 for Game 2, although those games were on Versus. This year, the networks were switched for the first four games.

Unfortunately, that means this year's series now switches to Versus for Games 3 and 4. With the Red Wings again up 2-0, the league and NBC are undoubtedly praying for the Penguins to win at least one, if not both, games. Since I do want the NHL to succeed despite its poor leadership on so many problems facing the league, do me a favor and tune in tonight and Thursday at 8 pm ET. If you still don't know where to find Versus in your area click on this link.