The NHL and NBC announced the NHL National TV schedule yesterday. The 2018-19 season will feature an all-time high of 109 games that will be broadcast on the NBC network family. NBC will be showcasing some of the best talent in the league, independent of the market size of the teams which appears to be a change over previous seasons. Tampa Bay and Nashville will each have 12 games nationally televised which is 6 and 5 more games respectively than they had last year. The TV schedule will see a significant increase in Canadian teams with appearances on US TV airwaves. Edmonton leads all Canadian teams with 7 games on NBC this year (up from 3 last year) with Toronto (6 up from 3) and Winnipeg (5 up from 0) with the next highest appearances. Montreal will tie with Los Angeles in the biggest drop in the # of National televised games with 7 less games than last year (1 game this year down from 8 last year). No significant changes at the top of TV charts as the top 6 televised teams this coming season are the same top 6 from last season. Chicago, Philly, Pittsburgh, Boston, NY Rangers and the Stanley Cup champion, Washington Capitals, have been the most nationally televised teams each of the last 6 years.
Here is a look at the counts and changes from last year:
Games to Watch
These are some of the games I am already circling for the first half of the National TV Schedule:
October 3rd Boston vs Washington – Opening night…duh.
October 3rd Anaheim vs San Jose – Looking forward to seeing if local boy, Dylan Gambrell, makes the opening night squad for San Jose.
October 10th Vegas vs Washington – Stanley Cup rematch. There is no way this game will match the intensity of the Stanley Cup final, but should be fairly entertaining game for October.
October 24th Toronto vs. Winnipeg – Both teams are probably considered in the top 5 contending teams to start the year and will only play each other twice all year. (Pretty awesome that NBCSN is giving us a all Canadian match to see this one play out.)
November 6th Edmonton vs. Tampa Bay – Another great match up. This will be the first time we could see Spokane’s Kailer Yamamoto and Tyler Johnson faceoff against each other. Additionally, former Seattle Thunderbird, Ethan Bear, could be playing with Edmonton. And, oh yeah…that Connor McDavid kid is kind of fun to watch. Let’s not forget Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman.
December 4th Toronto vs. Buffalo – Buffalo might be a sneaky team to check out this year. They’ve recently added Jeff Skinner and I am really excited to see #1 overall pick, Rasmus Dahlin, play this year. Toronto should be a big test for Buffalo.
December 19th Pittsburgh vs Washington – I expect this series to be fairly heated and not everyone will be nice around the holidays.
January 3rd Chicago vs NY Islanders – I probably watched the Islanders more last year than I did the entire prior 5 years. Rookie of the year last year and former Seattle Thunderbird Matthew Barzal was so much fun to watch and the Islanders’ swiss cheese defense made it very entertaining. It will be interesting to see a Tavares-less Islanders this year, but new head coach Barry Trotz will probably shore up the defense a bit to hopefully get them to contend. This will be the Islanders only national televised game this season.