The powers that be at the NHL probably are breathing a sigh of relief this week because apparently their lockout of 2012-13 didn’t do much damage to the sport with fans.

The lockout reduced the number of regular-season games from the usual 82 to just 48. Fewer games hit the NBC Sports Network, but that hasn’t stopped ratings from showing a surge in the postseason.

The Western Conference’s Game 7 semifinal between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings averaged 3.354 million viewers, making it the highest rated NHL game ever on NBC’s sports channel.

Ultimately the two teams playing, a storied Detroit franchise and a Chicago team that won the Stanley Cup in 2010, might have been the reason for the viewership, but team owners and league commissioner Gary Bettman can hope that it’s a trend.

Given that the league’s conference finals features the past four Stanley Cup winners — the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings and Blackhawks — they have to be salivating at the ratings prospects.

The reality, however, is that even with that ratings mark, hockey remains a secondary choice during a time of year when the NHL and NBA both are playing their postseasons. Despite what can be termed big declines in ratings for their playoffs, the NBA still beats the NHL. Ditto for MLB, which had its lowest-rated World Series ever last fall.

For a little more perspective: ratings for the most recent Super Bowl slipped as well, but 108.4 million people still watched, according to Nielsen, the ratings service.

For the NFL it’s good to be king — or would that be dictator?

Memorial and U.S. Open

If Tiger Woods decided to pick a time to play a bad weekend of golf, this had better be it. As of this writing, he was tied for 48th in The Memorial Tournament, Jack Nicklaus’ tournament being played in Dublin this weekend.

That’s not good for CBS.

Through all of the whining about Woods’ transgressions in his personal life a few years ago, a couple of very basic facts were lost. Every player on the tour has benefited from Woods’ presence because purses have risen significantly since he turned pro.

Secondly, when Tiger is in the hunt, TV ratings spike. Here’s betting that CBS (WOIO Channel 19 locally), the network airing the tournament, is hoping for a miracle as is NBC. It would be ratings gold this week and set up things perfectly for next week’s U.S. Open, which will air on the Golf Channel and on NBC (WKYC Channel 3).

Beginning June 9, assorted programming will air on the Golf Channel leading up to the tournament. All four rounds of which will air on NBC.

Lacrosse rising

For anyone doubting the fact that lacrosse continues to gain in popularity, just look to the Time Warner Cable Sportschannel.

The 24/7 sports station, available on position 1311 and 311 on TWC channels, will air the girls and boys lacrosse championship games.

The Ohio Schoolgirls Lacrosse Association Division I championship game will air at 7 p.m. Saturday, with Bob McElligott and Alicia McClure calling the game. The Division II championship game will follow at 8:30 p.m., with commentary by Todd Bauer.

Boys games will get their airtime June 8.

For good measure the cable television provider will air championship rugby games, too. They will air tonight at 10 and 11:30 with Greg Franke and Frikkie Loubser calling both games.

The boys game features reigning state champion St. Edward High School (Lakewood) battling Archbishop Moeller High School (Cincinnati) in the boys championship, a rematch of last year’s final, and St. Joseph Academy (Cleveland) will play Parma Senior High School in the girls matchup.

For gearheads

NASCAR will provide fans with an all-access pass for TNT’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series action, with the network offering behind-the-scenes content featuring a different driver and their respective team during the six-week season. It begins at 1 p.m. June 9 at the Pocono Raceway.

George M. Thomas can be reached at Read the On Sports Media blog at Follow him on Twitter at