The NHL released its slate of nationally-televised games today, including the Boston Bruins TV schedule, and fans are in for a lot of big national games on the networks of NBC.
Like last year, NBC will start its hockey coverage with the Thanksgiving Showdown on Nov. 23, which will feature the Bruins and the New York Rangers this year. Last year, the Thanksgiving Showdown was heavily promoted with lots of ads and a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade featuring cute little kids playing hockey and Bruins team president Cam Neely. Though the Bruins lost last year’s Black Friday Showdown–to use a more accurate name since the game is not on Thanksgiving–3-2 in a shootout to the Detroit Red Wings, it also provided a big national showcase for Tuukka Rask long before he became the Bruins’ starting goalie.
The other Bruins game definitely set to air on NBC is their Feb. 17 afternoon game against the Chicago Blackhawks, which will be part of an expanded Hockey Day in America. That big day will now feature two games on NBC and then an evening showing on NBC Sports Network along with featurettes about various interesting aspects of hockey in America. I remember that last year included looks into the U.S. National Team Development Program and a sledge hockey program for the disabled in Tampa Bay.
The Bruins were also shut out by the Minnesota Wild on last year’s Hockey Day in America. That’s something that I would not want to happen again, obviously.
Three Bruins games near the end of the season–two in March and one in April–may air on NBC or NBC Sports Network, depending on what the network decides to schedule closer to the air dates. One of the possible NBC games is on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, against the Pittsburgh Penguins, although this year the big St. Patty’s game is in the Steel City.
Once again, NBC Sports Network kicks off its NHL coverage on the first night of the regular season and, once again, they start with the Bruins’ season opener against the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 11. At least one Bruins game every month will be shown on NBC Sports Network, which plans to have games on every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Plus, in January they’ll add Sunday games for four straight days of hockey every week. Sunday and Wednesday games will be exclusive.
NHL Network will also air nine Bruins games over the course of the season starting in November.
Of course, NESN will also broadcast all non-exclusive games, which does exclude almost every NBC Sports Network game and both of the definite NBC games, so there will be some nights without Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley.
It may be a bit weird to see normal preseason announcements sitting right beside news about collective bargaining agreement negotiations on NHL.com, considering the latter could delay some of these broadcast plans, but it’s nice to see some news that builds on the possibility of a normal-length season.