NHL releases national TV schedule for 2011-2012; We’re going to be a little busy

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It’s the mid-summer version of Christmas morning for fans that are champing at the bit to get to a new hockey season. Much like Steve Martin in “The Jerk” we’re shouting about the arrival of this year’s national television broadcast schedule. Over here at PHT we’re extra excited because of all the added games we’ll have on Versus/NBC Sports Network this season as well as an earlier start to the NHL on NBC broadcast schedule.

On the NBC side of things, we’ll be kicking off our coverage the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday November 25, with an original six pairing between the Detroit Red Wings and defending champion Boston Bruins at 1 p.m. ET. It’s only fitting that the defending champs get to debut what will become an annual tradition on Black Friday with the NHL dropping the puck in the afternoon after fans have either shopped their faces off that morning of they’re still sleeping off the turkey hangover.

January 2 will be the date of the NHL Winter Classic and while the NHL has yet to confirm that the game will be between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers from Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, they’re set to square off on NBC that Monday afternoon at 1 p.m. All the dots are connected here.

February 19 will be Hockey Day In America and once again it’ll be a regional broadcast day with four games this time around. St. Louis will be in Chicago to take on the Blackhawks, San Jose in Detroit to face the Red Wings, and the Penguins visiting Buffalo to face the Sabres. Meanwhile the Bruins hit the road to play the Wild in Minnesota.

As for the full schedule, here’s how it plays out for NHL on NBC.

Fri., Nov. 25 Detroit at Boston 1 p.m.

Sun. Jan. 2 New York Rangers @ Philadelphia 1 p.m.

Sat., Jan. 14 Chicago at Detroit 12:30 p.m.

Sun., Jan. 22 Was at Pit or Bos @ Phi 12:30 p.m.

Sun., Feb. 12 TBD 12:30 p.m.

Sun., Feb. 19 Pit @ Buff / SJ @ Det / STL @ Chi 12 p.m.

Boston at Minnesota 3 p.m.

Sun., March 4 Bos @ NYR or Phi @ Wash 12:30 p.m.

Sun., March 11 LA @ Chi or Bos @ Pit 12:30 p.m.

Sun., March 18 Pit @ Phi or Was @ Chi 12:30 p.m.

Sun., April 1 Bos @ NYR or Phi @ Pit 12:30 p.m.

Sat., April 7 Was @ NYR or Phi @ Pit or Chi @ Det or Buf @ Bos TBD

Days with the flex schedule that feature more than one game that could be played on NBC will see the game that isn’t aired on NBC instead played on NBC Sports Network (Versus) that night instead.

Speaking of NBC Sport Network (Versus) our schedule there is a monster one and it all kicks off on October 6 with a doubleheader featuring the new look Philadelphia Flyers opening the season in Boston against the Bruins as they’ll raise their championship banner at TD Garden at 7 p.m. ET. That game will be followed up with the defending Western Conference champion Vancouver Canucks facing off against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Rogers Arena in Vancouver at 10 p.m. ET.

Come late January, NBC Sports Network will carry the All-Star Game from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on Sunday January 29 as well as the skills competition on the 28th and fantasy all-star draft on the 27th.

You can check out the Versus/NBC Sports Network schedule here. It’s a whopper. (All times Eastern)

October
Thurs., Oct. 6 Philadelphia at Boston 7 p.m.
Pittsburgh at Vancouver 10 p.m.
Fri., October 7 New York Rangers/Los Angeles* 1 p.m.
Sat., October 8 New York Rangers/Anaheim* 1 p.m.
Mon., October 10 Tampa Bay at Washington 7 p.m.
Tues., October 11 Florida at Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.
Wed., October 12 Boston at Carolina 7:30 p.m.
Mon., October 17 Colorado at Toronto 7 p.m.
Tues., October 18 Pittsburgh at Minnesota 7:30 p.m.
Tues., October 25 Tampa Bay at Buffalo 7:30 p.m.
Mon., October 31 San Jose at New York Rangers 7 p.m.

November
Tues., November 1 Anaheim at Washington 7:30 p.m.
Wed., November 2 Philadelphia at Buffalo 7:30 p.m.
Mon., November 7 New York Islanders at Boston 7 p.m.
Tues., November 8 Carolina at New Jersey 7:30 p.m.
Wed., November 9 Philadelphia at Tampa Bay 7:30 p.m.
Mon., November 14 Buffalo at Montreal 7 p.m.
Tues., November 15 Colorado at Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.
Wed., November 16 New Jersey at Buffalo 7:30 p.m.
Mon., November 21 Boston at Montreal 7:30 p.m.
Tues., November 22 Los Angeles at St. Louis 7:30 p.m.
Mon., November 28 Tampa Bay at Minnesota 7:30 p.m.
Tues., November 29 Pittsburgh at New York Rangers 7:30 p.m.
Wed., November 30 Tampa Bay at Detroit 7:30 p.m.

December
Mon., December 5 Phoenix at Chicago 8 p.m.
Tues., December 6 Detroit at St. Louis 7:30 p.m.
Wed., December 7 Philadelphia at Buffalo 7:30 p.m.
Mon., December 12 New Jersey at Tampa Bay 7 p.m.
Tues., December 13 San Jose at Colorado 9 p.m.
Wed., December 14 Chicago at Minnesota 7:30 p.m.
Mon., December 19 Anaheim at Dallas 8 p.m.
Tues., December 20 Chicago at Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.
Wed., December 21 Philadelphia at Dallas 7:30 p.m.
Mon., December 26 Dallas at St. Louis 7:30 p.m.
Tues., December 27 St. Louis at Detroit 7:30 p.m.
Wed., December 28 New York Rangers at Washington 7:30 p.m.

January
Mon., January 2 San Jose at Vancouver 8 p.m.
Tues., January 3 Detroit at Dallas 8 p.m.
Wed., January 4 Boston at New Jersey 7:30 p.m.
Sun., January 8 Detroit at Chicago 7:30p.m.
Tues., January 10 San Jose at Minnesota 7:30 p.m.
Wed., January 11 Pittsburgh at Washington 7:30 p.m.
Sun., January 15 New York Rangers at Montreal 7 p.m.
Mon., January 16 Dallas at St. Louis 7:30 p.m.
Tues., January 17 Nashville at New York Rangers 7:30 p.m.
Wed., January 18 Buffalo at Chicago 7:30 p.m.
Mon., January 23 St. Louis at Detroit** 7:30 p.m.
Tues., January 24 Minnesota at Colorado 9 p.m.
Wed., January 25 Detroit at Montreal 7:30 p.m.
Fri., January 27 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft TBD
Sat., January 28 NHL Skills Competition TBD
Sun., January 29 NHL All-Star Game TBD
Tues., January 31 Washington at Tampa Bay 7:30 p.m.

February
Wed., February 1 New York Rangers at Buffalo 7:30 p.m.
Sun., February 5 Boston at Washington 12:30 p.m.
Mon., February 6 Detroit at Phoenix 8 p.m.
Tues., February 7 Los Angeles at Tampa Bay 7:30 p.m.
Wed., February 8 Boston at Buffalo 7:30 p.m.
Sun., February 12 Philadelphia at Detroit 7:30 p.m.
Mon., February 13 San Jose at Washington 7:30 p.m.
Tues., February 14 Anaheim at Minnesota 7:30 p.m.
Wed., February 15 Boston at Montreal 7:30 p.m.
Sun., February 19 New Jersey at Montreal 6 p.m.
Mon., February 20 Washington at Carolina 7:30 p.m.
Tues., February 21 Detroit at Chicago 8 p.m.
Wed., February 22 Los Angeles at Colorado 9 p.m.
Sun., February 26 Chicago at Anaheim 7 p.m.
Mon., February 27 New Jersey at New York Rangers 7:30 p.m.
Tues., February 28 Los Angeles at Minnesota 7:30 p.m.
Wed., February 29 Pittsburgh at Dallas 7:30 p.m.

March
Sun., March 4 Bos @ NYR or Phi @ Wash 7 p.m.
Mon., March 5 Buffalo at Winnipeg 8 p.m.
Tues., March 6 Minnesota at Colorado 9 p.m.
Wed., March 7 Toronto at Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.
Sun., March 11 LA @ Chi or Bos @ Pit 7:30 p.m.
Mon., March 12 Anaheim at Colorado 9 p.m.
Tues., March 13 Carolina at New York Rangers 7:30 p.m.
Wed., March 14 Colorado at Buffalo 7:30 p.m.
Sun., March 18 Pit @ Phi or Was @ Chi 7 p.m.
Mon., March 19 New Jersey at New York Rangers 7:30 p.m.
Tues., March 20 Phoenix at Dallas 8 p.m.
Wed., March 21 Detroit at New York Rangers 7:30 p.m.
Sun., March 25 Minnesota at Washington 5 p.m.
Nashville at Chicago 7:30 p.m.
Mon., March 26 Tampa Bay at Philadelphia 7:30 p.m.
Tues., March 27 Tampa Bay at Boston 7:30 p.m.
Wed., March 28 Detroit at Columbus 7:30 p.m.

April
Sun., April 1 Bos @ NYR or Phi @ Pit 7:30 p.m.
Mon., April 2 Washington at Tampa Bay 7 p.m.
Tues., April 3 Pittsburgh at Boston 7:30 p.m.
Wed., April 4 Detroit at St. Louis 7:30 p.m.
Thurs., April 5 Columbus at Colorado 9 p.m.
Fri., April 6 Phoenix at St. Louis 7:30 p.m.
Sat., April 7 (Two Games, TBD) TBD

* NHL Premiere™ Games in Europe

We weren’t kidding when we said we’d be busier around here. Apart from all the games you’ll be able to see here on the NBC family of networks, the NHL Network will also have their fair share of games to show as well and they’ve got an extensive schedule as well.

The season isn’t too far away now and getting to look over what we’ll have in store for TV purposes should all keep us busy until training camp starts… Right?

Boeser channels Bure, leads NHL rookie scoring

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Brock Boeser has no intentions of letting Clayton Keller or Mathew Barzal walk away with the Calder Trophy.

Boeser, 20, has been lights out over the past four games for the Vancouver Canucks, scoring six times during his current four-game goal-scoring streak (he also has points in five straight) as Keller’s stock has cooled.

The Arizona Coyotes 19-year-old rookie has failed to score in each of his past eight games after a blistering start that saw him score 11 times in 16 contests.

Keller’s slump has allowed Boeser to grab hold of the rookie scoring lead, which he did on Wednesday, scoring twice — the second time he’s done so in as many games — in a 5-2 rout of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

He’s now one point ahead of Keller and Barzal, the latter of which is heating up as well with points in his past four games.

As you can see by the above video, Boeser’s release puts his name on a pedestal with few others in the NHL. The Athletic’s Justin Bourne wrote glowingly of Boeser’s shot ability on Wednesday.

Don’t see the Alex Ovechkin or Patrik Laine in that shot? Here’s more proof:

Boeser’s scoring prowess has him in the conversation with another talented Russian in Pavel Bure.

Bure, who won the Calder Trophy in 1992, scored 34 times for the Canucks that season. Boeser is on pace to hit the 40-goal mark, which would smash that record.

Boeser is the first rookie to score in four consecutive games this season. According to the NHL, only one rookie in Canucks franchise history has scored in more than four consecutive team games – Dennis Ververgaert had a six-game goal streak in 1973-74.

Boeser is scoring on nearly 21 percent of his shots, and while TSN’s Scott Cullen points out that that number isn’t likely to hold, his 2.8 shots per game are still very much conducive to goal scoring.

And winning. Boeser has three game-winning goals for the Canucks, who are 11-8-3 this season, two points out of first place in the Pacific Division in the Western Conference.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck


Free falling: Flyers lose sixth straight as growing pains emerge

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The Philadelphia Flyers feel they are right there, which is an interesting statement from a team that’s lost six straight and eight of their past 10.

Ah, the lies we tell ourselves in times of trouble.

The Flyers did fair better on Wednesday night in a 4-3 shootout loss against the New York Islanders, which prompted goaltender Brian Elliott to make the declaration that his team just needs to turn the corner.

It’s tough to turn when you’re falling backwards, however.

Indeed, finding positives when few appear to be in sight in a skid like the Flyers are in is a tough ask in the City of Brotherly Love. Flyers fans have had to come to terms with a few things this season.

It must pain fans to see Brayden Schenn lighting the lamp over and over again in St. Louis. Schenn was traded to the Blues in the offseason. The return looked half decent for a team looking to rebuild with a youth movement.

The Blues gave up two first-round picks for Schenn along with Jori Lehtera. And while it remains to be seen what the Flyers gain from the trade in future drafts, Lehtera has been an utter disappointment, one magnified many times more by Schenn’s incredible start.

Lehtera was a healthy scratch for Wednesday’s game, the second time in his past four games he’s watched rather than played. He’s sitting on two assists this season in 14 games. Schenn, by comparison, 10 goals and 30 points, including 19 in his past eight games.

It hasn’t been all Lehtera’s fault. Oh, no.

The Flyers penalty kill has been atrocious. They rank 28th in the league at 75 percent and have allowed seven goals in their past 13 kills over the past three games.

Andrew MacDonald can’t return soon enough, especially after one of their better penalty killers tried to behead a man last week.

Scoring could be better as well.

Claude Giroux has gone six games without a goal, this after scoring nine times in his first 16 games. Jordan Weal has just one goal in his past 18 games and was bumped to the fourth line on Wednesday. And ever since he 17 times in 64 games two years ago, Shayne Gostisbehere has only eight goals in his past 95 games and none in his past 13.

Ivan Provorov has been a godsend for the Flyers on defence (and Travis Sanheim is starting to blossom), but Gostisbehere’s offensive prowess from the backend would be a welcomed addition again.

But the real reason for the Flyers struggles this season might just be something they can’t control: youth.

The Flyers iced 11 players under 25 years of age on Wednesday night. Their top defenseman, Provorov, is 20 years old. Their second line centre, Nolan Patrick, is 19.

These are the growing pains of a team getting younger, and it could get worse yet before it gets better.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

While Turris continues to roll, Duchene still stuck in first gear

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Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side, sometimes it isn’t.

The two focal points of the biggest trade this season so far in the National Hockey League find themselves on opposite sides of the old expression.

On the ‘grass isn’t’ side, we find Matt Duchene, now an Ottawa Senators player after getting shipped to Canada’s capital from the Colorado Avalanche in a three-team deal (that also included the Nashville Predators, but more on that in a moment) earlier this month.

Duchene, unhappy in the Colorado Rockies, has now gone six games without a point in his new threads.

On the ‘greener side,’ we find Kyle Turris, now a member of the Nashville Predators, who was shipped out of Canada’s capital after contract negotiations between his former team, the Senators, “did not see the light at the end of the tunnel.” 

Unlike Duchene, (his trade partner?) Turris has found new life in Music City. In six games, Turris has two goals and three assists and scored this five-hole goal on Wednesday to help the Predators get past the struggling Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in the shootout.

Turris’ arrival on the Predators’ second line has been of great assistance to 21-year-old forward Kevin Fiala as well.

Fiala has six points, including two multi-point outings, since Turris arrived on Nov. 5 and is well on his way to eclipsing his rookie season point total of 16 last year with two goals and 11 assists in 20 games this season.

It was no secret the Senators wanted Duchene, badly, in the days leading up to the deal that finally got done. Turris and the Sens couldn’t reach an agreement on an extension and thus the 28-year-old became expendable. The results thus far, at least on the scoresheet, haven’t matched the steep price required to get Duchene.

But it’s not all bad. Some consolation for Sens fans:

And it’s not to say results won’t come.

Duchene has 23 shots in those six games. There would be more concern if he wasn’t getting chances.

An immediate winner in any high-profile swap is always hotly debated. Turris has had a strong start in Nashville, but he went to a team that is a few months removed from being in the Stanley Cup Finals and are looking like strong contenders once again.

Duchene is a highly-skilled player who scored 30 goals two years ago. The chemistry with Bobby Ryan just hasn’t blossomed just yet. Give it time.

The thing about trades is this: a clear-cut winner is often never determined a few weeks after the deal is made.

Duchene summed it up rather succinctly on Tuesday in the Ottawa Sun:

“I’ve said it many times, a season is full of peaks and valleys and 10 games from now, we could be having a totally different conversation.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Golden Knights can’t stop, won’t stop

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There may not be a more intriguing story in the NHL this year than what is going on in Sin City.

Defying all the odds, the Vegas Golden Knights — a team comprised of spare parts that general manager George McPhee picked out of a discard bin this past summer — sit on top of the Pacific Division at Thanksgiving after a 4-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.

The league-wide off day due to the holiday should give you enough time to come to the realization that yes, indeed, your eyes are not deceiving you.

Instead, the NHL has a brand new team that continues to re-write hockey history.

The Golden Knights matched an NHL record for most wins by a team through the first 20 games of its inaugural season on Wednesday, moving to 13-6-1 on the year.

They became the first expansion team to start a season 3-0-0 and first to win their first six of seven back in October. On Nov. 4, they tied a league record for shortest number of games played to achieve nine wins an inaugural season and continue to do things no other expansion team has done.

How a team full of players not good enough to be protected prior to the expansion draft is doing so well is anyone’s guess.

Chip on their collective shoulders? Perhaps. A little Las Vegas magic? Quite possible.

What is certain is that the Golden Knights have little trouble scoring. And scoring helps with winning.

James Neal, a former 40-goal man, leads the way with 11 goals. Only Filip Forsberg on the Nashville Predators, Neal’s former team, has as many. William Karlsson is second with 10. No one on his former team, the Columbus Blue Jackets, has reached double digits yet.

David Perron, Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault and Erik Haula aren’t far behind with six goals apiece, and Vegas is eighth in expected goals for percentage.

The math adds up to show the Golden Knights tied for fourth in goals for with 72. They’re also in the top third when it comes to least goals against, a remarkable feat given that they’ve had to dig deep — really deep — into their stable of goaltenders thanks to injury.

Furthermore, If the playoffs were determined by possession metrics and began tomorrow, the Golden Knights would be one of the 16 headed to the promised land.

Maybe Vegas just likes to win. And really, what do they have to lose?


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck