NBC to broadcast 70 NHL regular season games

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The 2013 NHL season promises to be a special one on NBC.

The NBC Sports Group will air 70 NHL regular-season games across NBC and NBC Sports Network this season — that includes 14 exclusive windows (15 games) on NBC, setting a record for the most regular-season windows ever for the network.

Some schedule highlights (All times ET):

Opening Week

NBC and NBCSN will carry seven games during the first week of the NHL season, including a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader on opening weekend (Jan. 19-20.)

Date Away   Home                 Time Network
Sat., January 19 Banner Raising 3:00 p.m. NBC
Sat., January 19 Chicago Los Angeles 3:25 p.m. NBC
Sat., January 19 Pittsburgh Philadelphia 3:35 p.m. NBC
Sun., January 20 Philadelphia Buffalo 12:30 p.m. NBC
Sun., January 20 Chicago Phoenix 10 p.m. NBCSN
Mon., January 21 Detroit Columbus 7:30 p.m. NBCSN
Tues., January 22 Philadelphia New Jersey 7:30 p.m. NBCSN
Wed., January 23 Boston N.Y. Rangers 7:30 p.m. NBCSN


Wednesday Rivalry Night

NBC Sports Network has exclusive coverage of special Wednesday night programming, highlighting some of the fiercest rivalries in the league.

Date Away   Home                 Time
January 23 Boston N.Y. Rangers 7:30 p.m.
January 30 Chicago Minnesota 8 p.m.
February 6 Boston Montreal 7:30 p.m.
February 13 St. Louis Detroit 7:30 p.m.
February 20 Philadelphia Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.
February 20 St. Louis Colorado 10 p.m.
February 27 Washington Philadelphia 7:30 p.m.
March 6 Colorado Chicago 8 p.m.
March 13 Philadelphia New Jersey 7:30 p.m.
March 20 Minnesota Detroit 7:30 p.m.
March 27 Montreal Boston 7:30 p.m.
April 3 Pittsburgh N.Y. Rangers 7:30 p.m.
April 10 Boston New Jersey 7:30 p.m.
April 17 Buffalo Boston 7:30 p.m.
April 24 Los Angeles Detroit 7:30 p.m.


Hockey Day in America

For the third consecutive year, NBC and NBC Sports Network will dedicate an entire day to the game of hockey. HDIA will feature more than nine hours of coverage, including three games and six teams from some of the most avid U.S. hockey markets.

Time Away   Home              Network
Noon NHL Live NBC
12:30 Pittsburgh Buffalo NBC
3:30 Los Angeles Chicago NBC
6:00 Washington N.Y. Rangers NBC Sports Network


Full Schedule

For the sixth consecutive season, the NHL and NBC Sports Group will utilize flex scheduling, which provides the ability to select from up to four games on Sunday afternoons. At least 13 days prior to the scheduled games, the NHL and NBC will announce which game will air.

NBC 2012-13 NHL regular-season schedule (all times ET, subject to change):

Date Away Home              Time
Saturday, January 19 Chicago Los Angeles 3:25 p.m.
Saturday, January 19 Pittsburgh Philadelphia 3:35 p.m.
Sunday, January 20 Philadelphia Buffalo 12:30 p.m.
Sunday, February 3 Pittsburgh Washington 12:30 p.m.
Sunday, February 10 Los Angeles Detroit 12:30 p.m.
Sunday, February 17 Pittsburgh Buffalo 12:30 p.m.
Sunday, February 17 Los Angeles Chicago 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 3 Chicago Detroit 12:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 10 N.Y. Rangers Washington 12:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 17 Boston Pittsburgh 12:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 31 Chicago Detroit 12:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 7 St. Louis Detroit 12:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 14 Chicago St. Louis 12:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 21 New Jersey N.Y. Rangers 3 p.m.
Saturday, April 27 New Jersey N.Y. Rangers 3 p.m.


NBC Sports Network 2012-13 NHL regular-season schedule (all times ET, subject to change):

Date Away Home Time
Sunday, January 20 Chicago Phoenix 10 p.m.
Monday, January 21 Detroit Columbus 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, January 22 Philadelphia New Jersey 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, January 23 Boston N.Y. Rangers 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, January 27 Minnesota St. Louis 8 p.m.
Tuesday, January 29 N.Y. Islanders Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, January 30 Chicago Minnesota 8 p.m.
Monday, February 4 Dallas Colorado 9 p.m.
Tuesday, February 5 Tampa Bay Philadelphia 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, February 6 Boston Montreal 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, February 10 New Jersey Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.
Monday, February 11 Los Angeles St. Louis 9 p.m.
Tuesday, February 12 N.Y. Rangers Boston 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, February 13 St. Louis Detroit 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, February 17 Washington N.Y. Rangers 6 p.m.
Tuesday, February 19 San Jose St. Louis 8 p.m.
Wednesday, February 20 Philadelphia Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, February 20 St. Louis Colorado 10 p.m.
Sunday, February 24 Tampa Bay Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.
Monday, February 25 Dallas Nashville 8 p.m.
Tuesday, February 26 Boston N.Y. Islanders 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, February 27 Washington Philadelphia 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 3 Montreal Boston 7:30 p.m.
Monday, March 4 Tampa Bay Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 5 Philadelphia N.Y. Rangers 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 6 Colorado Chicago 8 p.m.
Sunday, March 10 Buffalo Philadelphia 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 12 Philadelphia Boston 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 13 Philadelphia New Jersey 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 17 Buffalo Washington 7:30 p.m.
Monday, March 18 Philadelphia Tampa Bay 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 19 Washington Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 20 Minnesota Detroit 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 24 Washington N.Y. Rangers 7:30 p.m.
Monday, March 25 Los Angeles Chicago 8 p.m.
Tuesday, March 26 Philadelphia N.Y. Rangers 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 27 Montreal Boston 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 31 Washington Philadelphia 7:30 p.m.
Monday, April 1 Colorado Detroit 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, April 2 Buffalo Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 3 Pittsburgh N.Y. Rangers 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 7 New Jersey Buffalo 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, April 9 Chicago Minnesota 8 p.m.
Wednesday, April 10 Boston New Jersey 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 11 Pittsburgh Tampa Bay 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 14 Detroit Nashville 7:30 p.m.
Monday, April 15 Dallas Chicago 8 p.m.
Tuesday, April 16 NY Rangers Philadelphia 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 17 Buffalo Boston 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 18 New Jersey Philadelphia 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 21 St. Louis Colorado 7:30 p.m.
Monday, April 22 Montreal Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, April 23 Boston Philadelphia 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 24 Los Angeles Detroit 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 25 Pittsburgh New Jersey 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 27 TBD TBD 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 27 TBD TBD 10 p.m.

For guides and channel listings, click here.

Pittsburgh’s run fueled by ‘Baby Pens’

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Thursday night was big for Pittsburgh.

But it was also big for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton as well.

After the Penguins defeated Tampa Bay 2-1 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final, head coach Mike Sullivan praised four key players that spent parts of this year with the club’s minor-league affiliate: Matt Murray, Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust and Tom Kuhnhackl.

Lest we forget, Sullivan is a WBS guy too. He was coaching in the AHL prior to replacing Mike Johnston midway through the year, and seemed to know his minor league guys — the ‘Baby Pens’ — could produce at the NHL level.

“Those guys were huge,” Sullivan said in his presser. “I told our players after the game that one of the things I really loved about this game was it
took every single man in the lineup to win, and everybody made a significant contribution to helping us win, regardless of how many minutes they played.”

The most obvious hero was Rust, a rookie that scored both goals in the Game 7 win. The Notre Dame product had five goals in 55 career regular season games, but now has five goals in 17 playoff games this year.

“I love what he brings to this team and couldn’t be  happier  for him for his effort and his contribution as far as how he’s helped this team win for four or five months now,” Sullivan said of Rust. “To see him get rewarded with a couple of goals is a thrill for all of us because he’s such a great kid and he plays so hard.”

Murray, who turned 22 earlier this week, was also a key factor. He was remarkably solid after regaining the starter’s net from Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 6, stopping 44 of 47 shots over the final two games of the series.

Sheary, the diminutive speedster, had two points through Games 5-7 and fired an impressive five shots on goal tonight. Kuhnhackl was a little quieter, but still chipped in with five points this postseason, and provided a physical presence.

Overall, the quartet provided something that Pittsburgh’s lacked in previous playoffs. The knock was always that if Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin weren’t producing, the Pens weren’t winning. They just didn’t have the depth at forward to compensate when their star players went quiet.

That’s not a problem anymore.

“Guys made key plays at key times, subtle plays — plays on the wall, blocked shots, won face-offs, decisions with the puck, a good save, a big hit,” Sullivan explained. “There was a lot of those subtle plays throughout the course of the game that, I think, makes us the team that we are.”

‘We love him’ — Bolts heap praise on Stamkos as uncertain future awaits

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 26:  Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 26, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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This may have been Steve Stamkos‘ last game in a Tampa Bay uniform.

If it was, it didn’t go according to script.

But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t special.

Stamkos stunned the hockey world on Thursday night by making his playoff debut in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final, returning from a two-month absence due to a blood clotting issue.

After undergoing vascular surgery and spending weeks on blood thinners, the captain was cleared to return for his team’s most crucial game of the season — one the Bolts lost, 2-1, the narrowest of margins.

The outcome didn’t take away from how Tampa’s players and coaches felt about Stamkos’ return

“He’s an extremely important player on our team, and we weren’t quite sure when this was going to happen, but a decision was made that he could play for Game 7,” head coach Jon Cooper said. “It was an emotional boost for all of us. The guys were really excited to have him back, and I thought he did a great job.”

By the boxscore, Stamkos’ impact on the game was minimal. He received less than 12 minutes of ice time and finished minus-1. But he did have two shots on net — one of them showing just how dangerous, even in a limited capacity, No. 91 can be:

“I thought I beat him,” Stamkos told NHL.com. “It just went through him and out the other side.”

The focus for Stamkos and the Bolts now shifts to his contract situation. Slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, the former 60-goal scorer projects to be the biggest star to hit the market since Zach Parise and Ryan Suter became UFAs in 2012.

Those two, you may recall, cashed in quite nicely, signing identical 13-year, $98 million deals.

So you can see why Stamkos’ future is of great interest across the league.

Of course, nobody has officially ruled out the 26-year-old’s return to Tampa Bay, and tonight’s drama probably strengthened some pretty serious emotional ties. Remember, this is the only team he’s ever known. The Lightning made Stamkos the first overall pick in 2008 and, six years later, the 10th captain in franchise history. He won two Rocket Richard trophies with the Bolts, and played in a pair of Eastern Conference Finals and one Stanley Cup Final.

He’s the team’s leader and face of the franchise. That’s not small stuff.

But in the end, it might not matter. It’s important to remember the Lightning got to this point without Stamkos because they’ve got incredible depth and some really good young players. Those young players will need to be paid too, and there might not be enough money under the cap for GM Steve Yzerman to make Stamkos an offer he can’t refuse.

Which is why it was hard not to listen to comments the Bolts made tonight, and wonder if they’re aware of what the future probably holds.

“We hope we can stick together, but you just never know,” Boyle said, per the Tampa Bay Times. “Thought we were destined for some pretty special things.”

Here’s your Stanley Cup Final TV schedule

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 21: Patrick Marleau #12 of the San Jose Sharks skates on the ice against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on November 19, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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From the NHL:

The National Hockey League announced today the schedule for the 2016 Stanley Cup Final, which begins Monday, May 30, in Pittsburgh.

Based on their superior regular-season point total, the Eastern Conference champion Pittsburgh Penguins will host Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final, as well as Games 5 and 7, if necessary.

The Western Conference champion San Jose Sharks will host Games 3 and 4, as well as Game 6, if necessary.

In the U.S., NBC will televise Game 1 and, if necessary, Games 5-7. NBCSN will broadcast Game 2. Television information for Games 3 and 4 will be announced at a later date.

Game 1 Monday, May 30 8 p.m. San Jose at Pittsburgh NBC
Game 2 Wednesday, June 1 8 p.m. San Jose at Pittsburgh NBCSN
Game 3 Saturday, June 4 8 p.m. Pittsburgh at San Jose TBD
Game 4 Monday, June 6 8 p.m. Pittsburgh at San Jose TBD
Game 5* Thursday, June 9 8 p.m. San Jose at Pittsburgh NBC
Game 6* Sunday, June 12 8 p.m. Pittsburgh at San Jose NBC
Game 7* Wednesday, June 15 8 p.m. San Jose at Pittsburgh NBC

Media day will be on Sunday, May 29, time TBD. PHT will be on location for the entirety of the final, and a reminder that all games will also be broadcast on NBC Sports Radio.

PHT’s Mike Halford (that’s me) and Jason Brough will be providing analysis for both pre- and post-game shows.

Pens edge Bolts, advance to first Stanley Cup Final in seven years

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For one night, anyway, the Steel City loved it some Rust.

In a thrilling and drama-filled affair, the unlikeliest of heroes — Pens rookie Bryan Rust — stole the show, scoring both goals in a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Rust’s heroics sent Pittsburgh to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2009.

Seven years ago against the Red Wings, it was depth forward Max Talbot that etched himself into Penguins lore, scoring both goals in the decisive Game 7.

Rust pretty much did the same on Thursday.

The former Notre Dame standout opened the scoring in the second period, then took all of 30 seconds to wipe out Jonathan Drouin‘s equalizer. It was a performance that’ll long be remembered in Pittsburgh, as it was the organization’s first Game 7 victory since — you guessed it — 2009, when Talbot led the Pens to victory over Detroit.

As mentioned above, this contest was filled with drama. The theatrics actually began prior to puck drop, when Bolts captain Steve Stamkos was added to the lineup — his first game since being diagnosed with a blood clotting issue on Mar. 31.

Stamkos’ playoff debut was somewhat muted. He finished minus-1 with just 11:55 of ice time, though it’s tough to suggest much more could’ve been expected from a guy that hadn’t played in two months.

At times tonight, it seemed nothing, not even Stamkos’ presence, was going to slow Pittsburgh down. The Pens out-shot the Lightning 39-17 and had it not been for some terrific netminding from Andrei Vasilevskiy, the score could’ve been much worse.

That said, Tampa Bay did have its chances in the third period, and finished with a frantic flurry around Pens goalie Matt Murray (who wasn’t busy, but finished with 16 saves).

In the end, the Lightning will undoubtedly regret the missed opportunity to finish this series off in Game 6 at home.

The Penguins, meanwhile, have to be thrilled with the form shown over the final two games of this series. They’re playing some terrific hockey, getting contributions across the board and now staring at a Stanley Cup Final matchup with San Jose — which promises to be a fast, offensive and compelling series.

Game 1 gets underway at Consol on Monday. Have to imagine Pittsburgh can’t wait.