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Sabres Keep Fans Awake

English: Ryan miller, game 1 2010.

Ryan Miller: Awakening Fans

 

If the ratings for the Buffalo Sabres first two games on the West Coast are any indication, there were a lot of sleepy workers Thursday morning and Friday morning and there may be a lot of sleepy churchgoers Sunday morning after tonight’s game in Vancouver.

Or to put it another way, Sabre fans missed a lot of shut eye watching goaltender Ryan Miller post two shutouts.

The Sabres’ 1-0 win over San Jose had an 8.0 rating Thursday night on MSG despite having a 10:30 p.m. start. It peaked at 9.2 around midnight. To put that in perspective, the Sabres game was in the ballpark of “American Idol,” which had a 8.6 rating Thursday and ended before the Sabres game started.

Clearly, viewership was enhanced by the Sabres’ 2-0 victory over Anaheim Wednesday. Despite an earlier 10 p.m. start, the Anaheim game had a much lower 5.4 rating.

Speaking of the Sabres and Miller, it was amusing to hear WGR sports talkers speculate before the trip started that the goaltender’s criticism of the trade of his friend Paul Gaustad might impact his performance because his mental state always is an issue. If it did, it wasn’t the way Chris (Bulldog) and Mike Schopp expected. By all accounts, Miller was amazing.

Speaking of “American Idol,” Western New Yorkers are fleeing it at a higher rate than the national average. None of the three nights it ran this week on Fox hit a double-digit rating locally. Ratings here are down 25-30 percent from a year ago.

The confusing NBC drama “Awake” that premiered at 10 p.m. Thursday opened locally with a low 3.9 rating and didn’t do well nationally, either. It started here with a 4.3 rating and lost about 20 percent of its audience when the Sabres-San Jose game started. If it doesn’t improve, it will be the third NBC drama to fall in the Thursday time slot after “Prime Suspect” and “The Firm.”     

Time Warner Cable subscribers have until March 18 to renew the sports package it got for free during the MSG battle at half price. Here’s one reason to consider it. The package includes the CBS Sports Network, which usually has extensive analytical coverage of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Psst. Don’t tell anyone. But since the TWC-MSG deal has been settled, I’ve been able to get New York Rangers games like Friday’s against Tampa on MSG’s high definition channel. I think it is a mistake.

Now that the Canisius College men’s basketball season ended with a 5-25 record, media speculation about the future of Coach Tom Parrotta should accelerate. Decades ago, I used to cover local college basketball so I feel comfortable noting that previous speculation about Parrotta’s status  ignored one significant factor – whether Canisius boosters would consider ponying up to buy out the final year of the contract of a coach who graduates his players. The unwillingness to do so in the past usually worked to the advantage of Canisius coaches with losing records. It also should be noted that it usually is difficult for coaches on shaky ground with one year left on their contracts to recruit players.

Channel 4 sports director John Murphy – the voice of the Buffalo Bills — said Friday night that the Bills made the right call to trade wide receiver Lee Evans before last season for a fourth round draft choice. His evidence was Evans’ release by the Baltimore Ravens after catching four passes last season. That remains arguable. Evans was hurt almost the entire season. The Ravens said they may bring him back, which makes his release look like a salary cap move. His release by the Ravens also doesn’t change the fact that the Bills could have used a healthy Evans last season to stretch the field. It needed a deep threat and an extra receiver because of all the injuries the receiving corps had last season.  

pergament@msn.com

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