(CBS News/What's Trending) In a country overrun with football, baseball and basketball, hockey is America's forgotten major sport. The National Hockey League is looking to change that, and it appears they are moving in the right direction. NHL has been trending due to a competitive first round of playoffs filled with high scores, big hits and comebacks. Last night, the Vancouver Canucks closed out the series against the defending Stanley Cup champions Chicago Blackhawks, the Montreal Canadiens forced game seven against the Boston Bruins, and the Philadelpia Flyers finished off the Buffalo Sabres. The Flyers-Sabres game on NBC was the most-viewed NHL non-conference final game in 12 years. It's not just the playoffs that people are tuning into. Overall hockey TV ratings have gone up 84 percent over the past four years, and this year's outdoor Winter Classic was the most watched hockey game in the U.S. in 36 years. The increase in ratings allowed the NHL to sign a new television contract with Versus and NBC worth a reported $2 billion over 10 years. That's double the amount of the previous contract. So how did this happen? One reason would be the quality of the new televisions making the games easier to follow in HD. Another reason may be the league's continued push to connect with fans online. For the past few years the NHL has been trying to utilize social media to capture the fan experience. On NHL.com there are game notes, photos right off the wire and videos of every goal and key moments of every game throughout the season. The league also encourages fans to bring the NHL to their favorite social media sites and their personal blogs through widgets. Teams also provide social media tips on their websites. The league has also allowed fans to embed videos right on their site so people like pre-school teacher Krissy can post a video on her YouTube channel Krisathelas. She recapped the Washington Capitals first round playoff series against the New York Rangers. It's not only the adults the NHL is trying to appeal to online. Another new initiative the league just announced is a new virtual world for kids called Rinksters. In Rinkster, kids can play hockey-themed games, collect virtual money, chat with friends and create their own avatar.
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