Since 2013, Game 7s (or in the case of 2020, a Game 5) in the first round has been a very familiar spot for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs have faced a variety of teams to determine who’ll move onto the next round in dramatic fashion in the form of Boston, Columbus, and now Montreal. TV-wise, seeing the team in Canada’s largest market is always a draw no matter who the opponent is.
A game like this may be groundhog day for Leafs fans, but the majority of these series have been money for Sportsnet and CBC.
2013 vs Boston Bruins, Game 7 Eastern Conference First Round:
The infamous 4-1 game. For Maple Leaf fans everywhere, this is one of the most painful memories in recent franchise history. For CBC, the ratings were a dream come true. Game 7 was a Hockey Night In Canada record with 5.1 million viewers tuning in for one of the most surreal comebacks in NHL playoff history.
2018 vs Boston Bruins, Game 7 Eastern Conference First Round:
Five years later, the Leafs would find themselves in another Game 7 against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Once again, the Bruins would come out on top in the series decider to the tune of a 7-4 win but Sportsnet and CBC would also win big even if the Canadian team didn’t. The networks would see 4.18 million viewers tune in for it and it would not only be the most-watched game of the postseason but had the second-most viewers of any NHL game to air on Sportsnet.
2020 vs Columbus Blue Jackets, Game 5, Stanley Cup Eastern Conference Qualifying Round:
Not a Game 7, but still a winner take-all game in the altered best-of-five series in last year’s 24 team postseason. A series that saw the Leafs battle back to force a Game 5, ended on another down note for the Leafs as they would fall 3-0 to Columbus. The numbers wouldn’t be as high as series in 2013 or 2018 but they would still draw an estimated overnight audience of 2.5 million viewers on Sportsnet.
Tonight, in an all-Canadian series, no matter if the Leafs win or the Canadiens win, the networks will be celebrating as the entire country watches.