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'13 Stanley Cup Final most-watched through four games on record

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

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Before the Stanley Cup Final, it wasn't easy to accurately predict much that would happen in this series. However, one prediction that was a lock was that the series would be a ratings monster for the NHL. That one has come through.

With two Original Six teams -- the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks -- in major American hockey markets, fans are tuning in at record numbers. As in, the best numbers we have ever seen in the U.S. for hockey since they have been keeping track.

From NBC Sports PR:

With three of the first four games needing overtime, the 2013 Stanley Cup Final is averaging 5.356 million viewers per game, making it the most-watched Final through four games on record (data available since 1994), according to The Nielsen Company.

Last night's 11-goal overtime contest (8:10-11:37 p.m. ET) between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks in the fourth game of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final averaged 6.459 million viewers, making it the most-watched Stanley Cup Final Game 4 ever (since the introduction of People Meters in 1987).

It's really laughable to look back and think that we were worried about fans returning after the lockout, isn't it? Ratings have been up all season and that has continued into the Final. Of course, it only helps that the games so far have been nothing short of fantastic and word is apparently spreading.

Game 4, which was on NBC and not NBC Sports Network, peaked in overtime with 8.192 million viewers. For hockey, that's a monster number and simply fantastic for fans of the game, and it shows the game is growing. And there have been no better games for record number of people to watch because these have been the types of games that can make fans for life.

With Game 5 coming on Saturday back in Chicago, it could be a recipe for a drop, but hockey media expert Steve Lepore sees even bigger things coming later in the series.

Yup, it's a great series in about every possible way.

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