Aug 20, 2011, 10:15 PM EST
After getting plenty of time to look over the national TV schedule and taking a look at what we’ll have on future weekends on NBC, there’s a few days that stand out for us even before training camp has started. With the host of featured events that will be going on throughout the season, that helps make things easier to narrow down.
That said, we’re going to keep ourselves limited to just five games that we’ve got our interest piqued by the most.
1. November 25 – Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings, 1 p.m. ET
It’s the first of what is going to be an annual game on Black Friday. You spent the morning chasing bargains at the stores the day after Thanksgiving and you’ve still got a fantastic turkey hangover. What’s better to relax after a morning of fighting the crowds than settling in to watch the first NBC game of the year? Making it all the better is that it’s an original six match-up featuring the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins at home against the Detroit Red Wings.
You’ll get anything and everything you could ask for in one game. Great goaltending? Sure, Tim Thomas is the man in Boston. Tremendous offensive firepower? Yup, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg will be hoping to beat Thomas. Added to that, you’ll see two of the league’s best defensemen in Boston’s Zdeno Chara and 41 year-old future Hall Of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom for Detroit. Since you’ll be hurting for great sports to watch on Black Friday, getting this game as your afternoon headliner makes the day even better.
2. January 2 – Philadelphia Flyers vs. New York Rangers, 1 p.m. ET
Right now it’s inauspiciously listed as a regular afternoon game in Philadelphia, but at some point in the near future it’ll be announced as the 2012 Winter Classic from Citizens Bank Park in Philly. If you haven’t been thrilled by past Winter Classic games… What’s the matter with you? This time around, the Flyers get to host the event after playing in the 2010 Winter Classic in Boston. They’ll get to show off this summer’s pickups in Ilya Bryzgalov, Jaromir Jagr, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, and Brayden Schenn to go along with Daniel Briere and Claude Giroux.
Having the Rangers make their first appearance in the Winter Classic means getting this summer’s top free agent pickup Brad Richards into the mix. Having him paired up with Marian Gaborik as well as Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky with superstar goalie Henrik Lundqvist in goal the Rangers have plenty of star power of their own. Perhaps the only other thing we’re anticipating more than the Winter Classic between these two rivals themselves is HBO’s 24/7 featuring both teams. Bryzgalov and his wild statements in Philly compared to Sean Avery and John Tortorella in New York? Sold.
3. January 22 – Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals or Philadelphia Flyers vs. Boston Bruins, 3 p.m. ET
Which side of drama would you like with your mid-January afternoon tilt? When last we saw the Penguins and Capitals on NBC in January, it was the 2011 Winter Classic from Heinz Field. That’s also the last time we saw Sidney Crosby on the main stage in a nationally televised game. We can only hope that we’ll get to highlight a Crosby-Alex Ovechkin matchup in this one.
If that’s not the sort of story line you’re interested in, how about a rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference playoff sweep between the Flyers and Bruins? Two seasons ago the Flyers came back from down 3-0 in their series with the Bruins to win in seven games. The Bruins would use that crushing defeat to motivate them to humiliate the Flyers in a 4-0 sweep last season on their way to winning the Stanley Cup. With the Flyers being differently loaded and the Bruins still running a bruising team with Tim Thomas in goal out there, it’s easy to say it’ll be a rough and tumble game.
4. February 19 – Hockey Day In America
Hockey Day In America is once again going to be a huge day. With a broadcast doubleheader featuring three regional games to kick off the afternoon (San Jose-Detroit, Pittsburgh-Buffalo, St. Louis-Chicago) followed up by a national broadcast featuring the Bruins going to Minnesota to take on Dany Heatley and the Wild it’ll make for a huge day of events.
While the Wild and Bruins get the main game that afternoon, seeing new rivalries like Sharks-Wings and Penguins-Sabres sharing the day along with an old school rivalry like Blues-Blackhawks gives us the kind of warm fuzzies you need on a mid-February day. With that much hockey to be watched in a day there’s no way you can lose.
5. March 18 – Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins or Chicago Blackhawks vs. Washington Capitals, 3 p.m. ET
With this day being a flex schedule, there’s two potential games to make it to NBC that afternoon and either way, we’re going to wind up winners. Either we’ll be showing off Jaromir Jagr suiting up in Flyers orange at home against his first franchise and (hopefully) Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in a battle of Eastern super powers or we’ll see the new and likely improved Washington Capitals with Tomas Vokoun joining Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin against Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and the tougher Blackhawks.
While the Pens-Flyers game is sure to be oozing with drama as the teams hate each other and now have offseason heat thanks to Jagr and Maxime Talbot winding up in Philly, Caps-Hawks has enough talent out on the ice to make it look like the second All-Star Game of the year.
Making the choices easier for these two games is the fact that whichever game doesn’t end up on NBC that afternoon winds up on NBC Sports Network (currently Versus) later that night thanks to the flex scheduling arrangement.
Nov 28, 2014, 10:45 AM EST
Eat some leftovers and watch some quality afternoon hockey.
Nov 28, 2014, 9:50 AM EST
He could return in about a week if things progress well.
Nov 28, 2014, 8:59 AM EST
Some numbers behind Nashville’s hot start.
Nov 28, 2014, 8:14 AM EST
Friday’s list of link savings.
Nov 28, 2014, 1:35 AM EST
Has appeared in five games with Chicago this season.
Nov 28, 2014, 12:15 AM EST
Forsberg scores the OT winner.
Nov 27, 2014, 10:50 PM EST
Shea Weber covered the puck in the crease.
Nov 27, 2014, 10:35 PM EST
Flyers play host to the Rangers Friday afternoon.
Nov 27, 2014, 9:30 PM EST
Was a healthy scratch in nine games.
Nov 27, 2014, 8:30 PM EST
X-rays on knee cap came back negative.
Nov 27, 2014, 7:30 PM EST
Struggled in the American Hockey League this season.
Nov 27, 2014, 6:30 PM EST
Expected to formally announce his retirement next Thursday morning.
Nov 27, 2014, 5:15 PM EST
Talented center would be a prized pickup at the deadline.
Nov 27, 2014, 4:00 PM EST
Patrick Roy doesn’t own part of a junior team anymore.
Nov 27, 2014, 2:41 PM EST
Incident occurred during Wednesday’s Jets-Sabres game.
Nov 27, 2014, 2:27 PM EST
Linden Vey gets back into the lineup for tomorrow’s game in Columbus.
Nov 27, 2014, 2:12 PM EST
Dallas forward has history as a repeat offender.
Nov 27, 2014, 2:03 PM EST
That’s a picture of Shawn Thornton, who doesn’t play for them anymore.
Nov 27, 2014, 1:59 PM EST
Just two goals in 20 games this year.
Nov 27, 2014, 1:16 PM EST
Devils currently sit 12th in the Eastern Conference.
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