2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Did Early Round Violence Increase Interest?

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2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Did Early Round Violence Increase Interest?
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
The first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs might have led one to think bullets would fly

The first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs featured quite a bit of violence.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers combined for about 300 penalty minutes and averaged a major penalty per two games. The San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues combined for nearly 150 penalty minutes in Game 2 alone.

In all these playoffs, there have been 12 suspensions totaling 44 games. Eight of those suspensions were in the first round of the playoffs, averaging five games a piece. Even outside of Raffi Torres' 25-game sentence, four transgressions were deemed heinous enough to receive more than one game penalties.

And that does not even count the two first-round match penalties.

Interestingly enough, total penalty minutes are down by over a minute per game compared to the 2011 playoffs. But there have already been 14 more major penalties, two more match penalties and eight more suspensions totaling 36 more games.

Television ratings have also been up overall in this year's playoffs. Are those two things related?

One of the first things they teach you in science is that you cannot assign a cause-effect relationship to a variable if there is more than one introduced into an equation. Thus, we must isolate all the variables that distinguish this year from last and may be contributing to the higher viewing audience.

For instance, there has been a decrease in scoring that would actually have helped reduce the television audience in a nation that clamors for the glory of scoring over the staple of defence like a kid prefers ice cream to spinach. But before we decide that proves violence is spurring ratings, we need to look at five other factors contributing to increased viewership...

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