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.