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NBC Sports releases ‘most diverse schedule ever’ for 2017-18 NHL season

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Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid will each make three appearances on NBC/NBCSN in 2017-18.

On NBC, Matthews’ Maple Leafs will take on the Capitals March 3 at the U.S. Naval Academy. The two NBCSN games featuring Toronto will be Jan. 24 at Chicago and March 5 at Buffalo.

McDavid’s Oilers, meanwhile, will make all three appearances on NBCSN: at St. Louis Nov. 21, vs. Los Angeles Jan. 2, and at Nashville Jan. 9.

“We’re proud to offer our most diverse NHL schedule ever to fans across the country,” said Sam Flood, Executive Producer & President of Production, NBC Sports. “From classic rivalries and historic franchises, to young stars such as Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid, a hockey-crazed market in Nashville, and a new franchise in Vegas, this schedule represents our commitment to present the NHL’s diverse and emerging stars, teams, and stories.”

Click here for the full NHL on NBC/NBCSN schedule.

Highlights include:

— NBCSN will televise seven games through the first week of the season, highlighted by the season-opener between the St. Louis Blues and two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins; the Detroit Red Wings’ first-ever regular-season home game at Little Caesars Arena vs. the Minnesota Wild on Oct. 5; the Vegas Golden Knights’ first-ever home game vs. the Arizona Coyotes on Oct. 10; and a Wednesday Night Rivalry clash between the Penguins and Washington Capitals on Oct. 11.

— NBC will present the 2018 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres from Citi Field in New York City, home of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets, on Jan. 1, 2018, at 1 p.m. ET.

— NBC will air exclusive coverage of the 2018 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series in primetime on March 3, 2018, at 8 p.m. ET, when the Toronto Maple Leafs face the Capitals at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md., home of the U.S. Naval Academy.

— NBC will present coverage of the NHL All-Star Game from AMALIE Arena in Tampa, Fla., home of the Tampa Bay Lightning. NHL All-Star Weekend will take place Saturday, Jan. 27 and Sunday, Jan. 28, and will include the NHL All-Star Skills Competition™ and the NHL All-Star Game.

— The 2017-18 regular season on NBCSN will feature 23 Wednesday Night Rivalry telecasts, plus five Wednesday Nightcaps and five Sunday Night Hockey exclusive games. WNR will feature the biggest rivalries in the NHL, including Penguins-Capitals, Blues-Blackhawks, and Canadiens-Bruins.

— The defending Western Conference champion Nashville Predators will make seven appearances this season on NBCSN, including a pair of home matchups against the Blackhawks on Nov. 28 and Jan. 30.

— The Blackhawks lead all clubs with 17 total appearances on NBC and NBCSN, followed by the Penguins and Flyers with 16, and the Capitals, Red Wings, and Bruins with 15 appearances apiece, respectively. The expansion Vegas Golden Knights will be featured on NBCSN five times this season. *Note: some games are subject to local blackouts*

— At least 53 of NBC and NBCSN’s 99 telecasts will feature at least one Western Conference team, and every U.S. team will appear on NBC or NBCSN in the regular season.

P.K. Subban gets a warm tribute during his return to Nashville

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It would have been silly for Nashville Predators fans to boo P.K. Subban during his return to “Smashville.”

Subban didn’t choose to be traded from Montreal to Nashville, and he didn’t elect to be sent from Nashville to the New Jersey Devils, either.

Sports fans aren’t always so rational, though. Really, it makes sense: spending so much money, time, and emotional energy on a game isn’t exactly the most rational thing to do. So there was some concern about how Subban would be received, especially since he’s already booed in an honestly uncomfortably large number of NHL arenas already.

Subban and others can breathe a sigh of relief, though, as while not everyone greeted Subban with open arms in as literal a way as Roman Josi did with their hug on Saturday, the team gave Subban a fantastic welcome back tribute video:

Not only does that video include some of Subban’s great moments during his three seasons with the Predators (that Stanley Cup Final appearance, a Norris Trophy win), it also captures some of the off-the-ice qualities that make Subban so fun and entertaining (and make people sometimes get perplexingly, maybe troublingly mad about him). He got up and decided to sing some Johnny Cash upon arriving in Nashville, was a fantastic charitable presence, and was a lot of fun.

(No Listerine was spilled in the making of the ad, but you can’t have it all.)

Anyway, good on the Predators and their fans for welcoming P.K. back.

As a reminder, Montreal Canadiens fans greeted him with love upon his return, too:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Avs’ rising star Cale Makar shaken by hit from Bruins’ Marchand

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The Colorado Avalanche have done a masterful job, for the most part, when it comes to rolling with injury-related punches to key players such as Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. They have to hope that Saturday didn’t send another such haymaker their way.

Rising star defenseman Cale Makar (who just fell under a point per game on Saturday with 28 in 29 contests) was clearly shaken up by a hard hit by Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand.

It didn’t seem like a heinous hit by Marchand, although there are some who wonder if it was a bit high.

Either way, Makar’s reaction is troubling. You can see him shake his head multiple times following the hit, which gives the impression that he could have suffered a concussion. That doesn’t guarantee that Makar did, but it’s a situation to watch — and one the Avalanche should absolutely be careful about.

The Avalanche ended up beating the Bruins 4-1 on Saturday.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Laila Anderson, bone marrow donor attend Blues game

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If it got a “little dusty” at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Saturday, that’s understandable, because the continued story of Laila Anderson meeting Kenton Felmlee, her bone marrow donor, is sure to make most get a case of heightened allergies.

(Is that a leak from the ceiling? /Sobs)

Anyway, Felmlee was Anderson’s guest during Saturday’s Toronto Maple Leafs – St. Louis Blues game, giving the two another chance to bond, and beyond that, for Anderson to thank Felmlee for helping her in her battle with the rare immune disease HLH.

It’s great stuff, even if the actual Blues game isn’t going so great for St. Louis.

This longer clip from their first meeting earlier this week is worth watching, unless you don’t want people to see you openly weeping’n’stuff:

(Personally, I’d say it’s worth it.)

MORE ON LAILA ANDERSON AND THE BLUES:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Canucks’ Miller scored an awesome water bottle breaker in OT

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Over time, you can become jaded as a sports (and specifically hockey) fan.

Stories about abusive coaches, lockouts, fans booing players for simply no longer being on their teams — it can sap some of the joy of the game.

Thankfully, we have highlights, and I can’t think of many simpler joys than someone scoring a goal and absolutely obliterating the goalie’s water bottle in the process. (As long as no one gets too dehydrated in the making of such films.)

Vancouver Canucks winger J.T. Miller did it one better on Saturday: he scored an important goal that way. Miller presented the ultra-rare OTBBGWG (overtime bottle-breaking game-winning goal) as the Canucks beat the Buffalo Sabres 6-5 in OT.

Bask in the glory of that goal in the video above this post’s headline. Here’s a fun alternate angle:

By the way, Miller continues to be a deadly offensive weapon for the Canucks. This one-goal, one-assist output extended his current point streak to an impressive eight games (5G, 6A for 11 points). Overall, Miller has 31 points in 30 games during his first season in Vancouver.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.