The Buffalo Sabres ended the regular season averaging an 8.3 rating on MSG, which is in the ballpark of the average ratings for prime time programming on the local Fox and CBS affiliates and ahead of the local ABC and NBC affiliates. The 8.3 rating is about a 60 percent improvement on the 5.1 rating the Sabres had in their President’s Cup winning season of 2006-07. But it really isn’t an apt comparison. The 5.1 rating came with an asterisk because Nielsen has since acknowledged that a technical issue made it vastly lower than it should have been.
The underreporting issue has been well-documented here, so comparing this season to the '06-'07 campaign really is useless. The 8.3 figure is still tops in the NHL by a significant margin, but it's pretty disappointing all things considered. If Sabres management hadn't messed up the past offseason so badly, the number would almost certainly be in the double digits and there would be plenty of playoff ratings in the upper 20's still to be reported. Instead, we'll just have to wait and see if Buffalo can hold off Pittsburgh for next year's ratings title. And there's always that chance we'll pull a higher rating for the Cup Finals than one of the markets playing in it.