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?

Canucks GM wants Miller back, bringing rebuild into question again

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For one fine trade deadline, it seemed like the Vancouver Canucks and GM Jim Benning saw the light.

They actually moved veterans for assets, and interesting ones in that. They were, gasp, considered one of the winners of the trade deadline. There was the indication that a rebuild might finally be in action. Better late than never, right?

Well … maybe that was just a brief reprieve.

The Vancouver Province’s Ben Kuzma reports that Benning threw the word “competitive” around when describing why he wants to re-sign 37-year-old Ryan Miller and why he isn’t looking to trade valued defenseman Chris Tanev and declining blueliner Alex Edler.

Sensible if debatable

His reluctance regarding moving the two defensemen is easier to understand. Tanev, 27, is in his prime at a nice cap hit ($4.45 million through 2019-20). A competitive team would want him, and if Benning is convinced the Canucks are close to being just that, then it makes sense.

Edler staying is a little simpler. He has a no-trade clause and doesn’t want to go.

Now, one can argue that Tanev would be best served being moved for high-quality pieces. And perhaps Benning should at least try to convince Edler to accept a trade.

A strange direction in net

But Miller?

“As we’re transitioning these young players into our lineup, I feel that if we have solid goaltending on a night-to-night basis, we can be competitive,” Benning said Thursday, according to Kuzma.

Now, that story discusses why Miller may or may not accept a return, but one would guess that he won’t have a ton of offers. At least not offers that would involve a chance for more “platoon” or even starter-type work rather than explicitly labeling him a backup.

Really, that’s beside the point, because it’s confounding that Vancouver wouldn’t want to go in a younger direction.

You can read that sort of discussion as the Canucks once again wanting to have their cake and eat it too. They seemingly want to “reload” instead of “rebuild.”

Perhaps there’s some smoke-screening going on here. Maybe Benning’s more interested in moving parts than he lets on; it could be that he wants to drive up Tanev’s price by playing coy about moving him.

Still, on their face, the comments don’t exactly inspire confidence for a fan base that must be getting a little irritated by management that, to many, seems delusional about this team’s potential.

Penguins’ Sullivan believes resiliency is ‘strength of this team’

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PITTSBURGH (AP) Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz stood shoulder to shoulder at center ice as midnight approached, crowd on its feet, Prince of Wales Trophy in hand. Another shot at the Stanley Cup in the offing.

On the surface, it could have been a scene ripped from 2008 when the longtime Pittsburgh Penguin teammates earned their first crack at a championship together, the one that was supposed to be the launching pad for a dynasty.

A closer look at the weary, grateful smiles told a different story.

This team has learned over the last decade that nothing can be taken for granted. Not their individual greatness or postseason success, even for one of the NHL’s marquee franchises. Not the cohesion it takes to survive the crucible of the most draining championship chase in professional team sports or the mental toughness (along with a dash of luck) needed to stay on top once you get there.

So Crosby paused in the giddy aftermath of Pittsburgh’s 3-2 victory over Ottawa in Game 7 of the helter-skelter Eastern Conference finals to do something the two-time Hart Trophy winner almost never does. He took stock of the moment, aware of how fleeting they can be.

“Every series you look at, the margin for error is so slim,” Crosby said. “We’ve just continued to find ways and different guys have stepped up. We trust in that and we believe in that and whoever has come in the lineup has done a great job. That builds confidence. We’ve done it different ways, which is probably our biggest strength.”

And they’ll have to do it one more time in the final against swaggering Nashville if they want to become the first team in nearly 20 years and the first in salary-cap era to win back-to-back championships.

It’s a daunting task. When the puck drops in Game 1 on Monday night in Pittsburgh, the Penguins will be playing in their 108th game in the last calendar year, and that doesn’t count another half dozen for those who played in the World Cup of Hockey and a handful of exhibition games.

Pittsburgh, however, has survived to do something even Chicago and Los Angeles – who have combined for five of the seven Cups awarded since 2010 – could not in putting itself in positon for a repeat.

Credit coach Mike Sullivan’s ever-prescient tinkering with the lineups, including his decision to throw Kunitz back into the fray with Crosby as Game 7 wore on, an experiment that ended with Crosby feeding Kunitz for the winner 5:09 into the second overtime .

Credit goaltender Matt Murray, thrust back into the lineup when Marc-Andre Fleury‘s hot play that helped carry the Penguins through the opening two rounds finally cooled.

Credit a maturity – or maybe it’s wisdom – from the team leaders who watched the first half of the decade come and go with plenty of gaudy regular-season numbers but no Cup banners to join the one they captured in 2009.

Pinning down what changed is difficult. General manager Jim Rutherford’s ability to remake the team on the fly to build one of the fastest lineups in the league helped. So did Sullivan’s ability to cut through the noise when he replaced the professorial Mike Johnston in December 2015.

Yet the Penguins understand there’s something else at work too, a resiliency and accountability they lacked while falling to lower-seeded teams every year from 2010-14.

“I believe that the resolve and the resilience of this team is the strength of this team,” Sullivan said.

Both were on full display in Game 7.

Kunitz, who missed the first-round series against Columbus with a lower-body injury, returned to see himself bumped from the first line to the fourth, scored his first two goals of the playoffs. Conor Sheary, a blurring revelation last spring who suddenly found himself a healthy scratch in Games 5 and 6 against the Senators, returned to set up Kunitz’s first goal .

Justin Schultz, who has assumed the as the minute-hogging, puck-moving defenseman role held by the injured Kris Letang, returned from his own health scare and scored a go-ahead goal in the third period.

If the Penguins were a force of nature last spring while earning the franchise’s fourth Cup, this one is more of a throwback. More blue collar. More anonymous.

Some of the key cogs that helped Pittsburgh get to this point – rookie forward Jake Guentzel, 37-year-old playoff newcomer Ron Hainsey and career grinder Scott Wilson – weren’t even around last spring. Yet they and so many others not named Crosby or Malkin have become equal partners in pursuit of a title.

“This year it’s been back and forth, it’s been tough,” Kunitz said. “We’ve had great individual performances. We had great goaltending. It’s something every night.”

It hasn’t been pretty. So what? Perhaps the biggest sign of the team’s growth is it has abandoned the pursuit of style points for something far more tangible. Like a 34-pound piece of hardware, one Pittsburgh has no intention of handing off anytime soon.

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

Breaking: Predators’ Laviolette has not tried Nashville’s ‘hot chicken’ yet

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Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette dropped a bombshell on “The Dan Patrick Show.” Some of us are still reeling from the revelation.

It turns out that Laviolette hasn’t tried “hot chicken” yet.

Laviolette explained that, if he had the “bird that bites back” before a game, he’d be on fire behind the bench. Sadly, Dan Patrick let him off the hook and didn’t ask “Well, what about off days, Lavi?”

(They might not be on a lazy hockey nickname basis yet, though, to be fair.)

All kidding aside, Laviolette provided more insight on the Predators’ Stanley Cup Final run – and not a lot more hot chicken hot takes – in the longer interview below.

Note: This post’s author may or may not have gone a year in Nashville without trying hot chicken either. Hey, Laviolette’s been there for three seasons now. Way worse.

‘Making Gretzky’s head bleed’ wasn’t so easy for ‘Swingers’ filmmaker

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Remember that classic (and very NSFW) video game hockey scene from “Swingers?” The one where Vince Vaughn espouses the virtues of Jeremy Roenick? It was pretty great, right?

There was something so organic about two friends getting up to video-game shenanigans (and discussing which 16-bit era game featured the best pixelated violence), but apparently it was easier to set the scene that it was to “make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed.”

The Ringer’s Achievement Oriented podcast caught up with Doug Liman (pictured with Jon Favreau in this post’s main image) for some hysterical background information on getting that highly amusing scene right.

“I had never actually seen Wayne Gretzky draw blood, but Vince [Vaughn] claimed he could do it repeatedly, so we put it in the script,” Liman said. “The actors are reacting to that. And then we’re editing the movie and I bring the [game console] into the editing room and we start playing it and we’re recording it onto a videotape so that when we get the one piece we need we’ll play that back on the TV and shoot it. [We do this] for, like, weeks. Nobody can draw blood. And I’m like [to] Nintendo, ‘Hey, can you give us the backdoor key to doing this?’ It wasn’t like we were having fun playing the game, because all we would do was pass the puck down and set it up for Gretzky to get the puck and then we would, you know, try to slam him into the boards.”

Like a rare athletic feat, they got it right, but don’t ask Liman to pull it off on a whim. Liman sure made it seem like they were lucky to ever commit that moment to film.

Liman explained that it was “infuriatingly fleeting” and not the sort of video game trick that you could make work over and over again once you learned the right combination of button presses.

This is some really funny, fantastic background information on the movie that launched the careers of Favreau and Vaughn. It also helped remind us of that golden 16-bit era of EA NHL games, whether you preferred NHL ’94, ’95, or ’96. (And so on.)

Liman also shares a very amusing story about how hockey video game skills don’t exactly translate to the real sport, so check out the transcript and the full podcast for more.

And, if you’re playing a modern game like NHL ’17, don’t pick on “Super Fan 87.” Be nice to your friends. That’s the money move.

Here’s the scene itself. Again, a warning: there is strong language and 16-bit “gore.”