The NHL and NBC announced the NHL national TV schedule for the upcoming season on Tuesday. The NBC network family will air 109 games this upcoming season that will feature 30 of the 31 teams in the league. For each of those teams at least one of the games will be US nationally televised. Only the Ottawa Senators were excluded in the schedule this year. 30 teams will be the most we have seen on the NBC network family in the last 6 seasons.
The biggest gains in televised games season over season will be from the Stanley Cup champions, St. Louis Blues, as well as the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars. The Blues are understandable, considering they are the champs. The Avalanche are certainly entertaining with all the young talent they have on that team, which should make them more watchable than in previous years. The increase in televised Stars games are a little surprising, but they did advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, so maybe those NBC Sports Execs know what they are doing.
Here is a look at the trends over the last 5 seasons.
Games to Watch
Sure, it’s August, but it’s not too early to peek ahead at what some of these nationally televised games have to offer. Here are a few of the games that caught my eye in the first half of the season.
- October 2nd Washington vs St. Louis: The last two Stanley Cup Champions face off on Opening Night.
- October 2nd Vegas vs San Jose: This is slowly turning into one of the better rivalries in the Western Conference. I feel like there was some kind of epic game the last time these two teams squared off.
- October 9th New Jersey vs Philadelphia: Two teams that did not qualify for the playoffs in the spring. This will be the first time we see Jack Hughes, #1 draft pick overall, play on national TV.
- October 16th Colorado vs Pittsburgh: Colorado was one of the most fun teams to watch last season. Add in Cale Makar (Rookie 2017 4th overall draft pick), Nazim Kadri (Trade), and, more than likely, Bowen Byram (Rookie 2019 4th overall draft pick). This should be an early benchmark of how competitive this Colorado team will be.
- October 17th New Jersey vs NY Rangers: Kappo vs Hughes, the first 2 players selected in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
- November 19th Tampa vs St. Louis: Tampa is the favorite to win the Stanley Cup next season and might try to take out their frustrating playoff exit last season on the defending Stanley Cup Champion Blues.
- December 18th Colorado vs Chicago: This should be an interesting time to check in on both of these teams. Colorado is expected to be one of the top teams this year; while Chicago could be more competitive than most people think.
- January 1st Nashville vs Dallas: The Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl. Let’s face it. There is nothing I enjoy more than sitting on the couch on New Year’s Day watching the Winter Classic. Both of these teams should be playoff bound this coming season.
- January 2nd St. Louis vs Colorado: I expect these teams to be the top two teams in the Central and hopefully a little bitterness and hate comes along with that competitive spirit to earn that top spot this season.
- January 6th Edmonton vs Toronto: I don’t know how competitive Edmonton will be this year, but the matchup of two of the best players in the game right now, Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, is worth the price of admission.