The fight filled contest between Buffalo and Ottawa that took place on February 22nd drew a 5.4 rating on MSG. While that number may pale in comparison to the ratings of popular network programming, it is a strong rating for a cable station. Considering that Thursday nights are filled with some of the most watched network shows (American Idol and Survivor specifically) and that it was a home game (a 1.0 rating in Buffalo is equivalent to roughly 6,500 households, so the 18,690 people at the game make a significant impact) it's a very respectable draw.
The much anticipated rematch two nights later drew a 6.5 local rating. The hype the game received both nationally and locally helped push the number upwards, but it is a bit of a surprise that more people in Buffalo tuned in for the All Star game than a game that received as much attention as this did.
On February 27 the Sabres defeated the hated Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre and the rating can't be described as anything but a disappointment. It only drew a 4.7 despite Buffalo being on the road. It's partially a reflection of American Idol's popularity, but a low number nonetheless. To be fair, a 4.7 average would still be the highest local rating in the NHL, but it was significantly below MSG's average in hockey rabid Buffalo.