NHL on NBC Game of the Week 2011 schedule

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This is it. This is what you’ve been waiting for all summer long, you’re first real warning signal that yes, hockey is back. Today the NHL released their national television schedule and part of that, of course, means sharing with you all what NBC will be covering this year.

This year, NBC is doing things a little differently and making it easier to build your schedule around. For the first time ever, the NHL Game of the Week on NBC will start at 12:30 pm ET and for the fourth year in a row, NBC will be making the use of “flex scheduling.”

This means that 13 days ahead of time, we’ll know just who will be playing in the NBC NHL Game of the Week. NBC’s coverage of the NHL will kick off on New Year’s Day with the 2011 Bridgestone Winter Classic from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh between the Capitals and the Penguins. But you knew that already. Which other games will be up for grabs? Buckle up because here we go.

Sun. Jan. 23

Philadelphia @ Chicago 12:30 PM

Florida @ New Jersey 12:30 PM

Buffalo @ N.Y Islanders 12:30 PM

Sun. Feb. 6

Pittsburgh @ Washington 12:30 PM

St Louis @ Tampa Bay 12:30 PM

Sun. Feb. 13

Boston @ Detroit 12:30 PM

Pittsburgh @ N.Y. Rangers 12:30 PM

Los Angeles @ Philadelphia 12:30 PM

Sun. Feb. 20

Washington @ Buffalo 12:30 PM

Pittsburgh @ Chicago 12:30 PM

Detroit @ Minnesota 12:30 PM

Philadelphia @ N.Y. Rangers 12:30 PM

Sun. Mar. 06

Philadelphia @ N.Y. Rangers 12:30 PM

Buffalo @ Minnesota 12:30 PM

Sun. Mar. 13

Chicago @ Washington 12:30 PM

Los Angeles @ Dallas 12:30 PM

Sun. Mar. 20

N.Y. Rangers @ Pittsburgh 12:30 PM

New Jersey @ Columbus 12:30 PM

Sun. Apr. 03

N.Y. Rangers @ Philadelphia 12:30 PM

Minnesota @ Detroit 12:30 PM

Tampa Bay @ Chicago 12:30 PM

Sun. Apr. 10

Detroit @ Chicago 12:30 PM

Boston @ New Jersey 12:30 PM

Dallas @ Minnesota 12:30 PM

Pittsburgh @ Atlanta 12:30 PM

One special day where things will be different coverage-wise will be February 20th, Hockey Day in America. On the 20th, NBC will be doing regional coverage of the games. This means, depending on where you live, you’ll get to see the game that most affects your area. With four games dropping the puck at 12:30 PM ET, Hockey Day in America is going to go off with a bang. We’ll have more details about NBC’s hand in Hockey Day in America when they’re released but holy cow what a day that’s going to be.

For those of you keeping track (and I know you will) the teams break down this way for the maximum number of times they could appear on NBC’s Game of the Week.

Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and N.Y. Rangers – 5 times

Detroit  and Minnesota – 4 times

Washington, Buffalo, and New Jersey – 3 times

Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles , and Tampa Bay – 2 times

Atlanta, Florida, N.Y. Islanders, Columbus, and St. Louis – 1 time

While not all of these teams will get the chance to appear on NBC, this makes for an incredible cross-section of teams across the United States. While everyone will have New Year’s Day circled on their calendar for the Winter Classic, February 20th becomes a must-see date for fans across the country as well.

Video: Chris Kreider doesn’t just fight Cody Eakin, he hits him with his helmet

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Tuesday’s Dallas Stars – New York Rangers almost seemed destined to be a wild affair, and so far, the two teams aren’t disappointing.

For one thing, Chris Kreider and the Rangers were open about “not forgetting” Cody Eakin‘s hit on Henrik Lundqvist, something Eakin realized heading in. The Stars had their own irritations coming into this game, as they clearly weren’t happy with their loss to the Buffalo Sabres and their shaky play overall.

So, yeah, plenty of reason for this to be a rowdy affair.

Kreider is delivering in particular, with the most memorable moment being his strange fight with Eakin, which you can see above. SBNation’s Pat Iversen points out that Kreider probably should have been ejected for hitting Eakin with a piece of his equipment, a violation of Rule 53.

As many know, Kreider has even more of a reputation for “interacting” with goalies, as he did once again with Antti Niemi:

The Stars currently lead the game 5-3, so it’s been a busy one on the scoreboard, too.

Video: Maple Leafs lose Morgan Rielly after fall into boards

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Down 2-0 to the Buffalo Sabres, the Toronto Maple Leafs are off to a shaky start on Tuesday. Still, their concerns likely revolve the most around the health of defenseman Morgan Rielly.

As you can see from the video above, the young Buds blueliner was shaken up by an awkward spill into the boards.

It’s too early to know if he avoided injury or might miss some time, but there’s at least some concern that he might have aggravated an issue from before his NHL days:

We’ll need to wait and see, but with his offensive skills and overall importance in mind (average just under 23 minutes a game this season, more or less in line with his breakthrough year in 2015-16), the Maple Leafs are crossing their fingers that this isn’t anything major.

WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at Colorado Avalanche

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 23:  Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks controls the puck as he turns against Tyson Barrie #4 of the Colorado Avalanche at the United Center on December 23, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Avalanche defeated the Blackhawks 2-1 in overtime.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Chicago Blackhawks need to put a tough weekend behind them; maybe the Colorado Avalanche are just what the doctor ordered.

Colorado is clearly ranked last in the league, whether they believe they have some assets in the likes of Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog or not. Perhaps there will be a few scouts on hand to see how such potential Avs trade targets perform against a contending team?

It’s rarely a dull night when the Blackhawks roll out talented players like Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Jonathan Toews – among others – so it should be a good time on NBCSN on Tuesday.

You can watch online or via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.

Short-lived return? No Tyler Ennis for Sabres tonight

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 25:  Tyler Ennis #63 of the Buffalo Sabres takes a shot on goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the first period at Wells Fargo Center on October 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Tyler Ennis‘ return to the Buffalo Sabres lineup on Monday after a 30-game absence seemed like a breath of fresh air. Tuesday, then, represents letting the air out of the balloon.

The Sabres announced that Ennis wasn’t out for warm-ups heading into tonight’s Sabres – Toronto Maple Leafs game. It certainly gives the impression that his groin injury isn’t fully healed.

Ennis contributed a goal to Buffalo’s 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars on Monday and nearly scored another in “lacrosse” style:

When healthy, he’s been a 20-goal, 40+ point player for Buffalo lately, so he was missed. The team tweeted out Ryan O'Reilly‘s comments about Ennis’ return mere hours ago, so you get the impression that it was a surprise for many:

Maybe it’s just a minor setback?

Update: The Sabres deem it a “precautionary scratch,” according to John Vogl of the Buffalo News. So maybe file this under minor setback. We’ll see.