NBC's 2018-19 NHL schedule will include over 100 games, a revamped Wednesday night and a wider swath of teams than in previous years.
NBC released its NHL schedule for the 2018-19 regular season, and it’s packed with a whole lot of hockey.
The network will air 109 games, its most since acquiring the league’s rights in 2005-06. At least 96 of those games will be showcased on NBCSN, including 21 doubleheaders and a 40-game Wednesday Night Hockey that will replace Wednesday Night Rivalry.
“Rivalry Night was successful but some of [the rivalries] don’t have the juice they once did when we started this 12 or 13 years ago,” executive producer and president of production for NBC Sports and NBCSN Sam Flood told USA Today.
Among those high-profile games is the home opener for the Washington Capitals, who will raise their Stanley Cup banner before taking on the Boston Bruins to kick off the season on Oct. 3. It will be the first of eight nationally-televised games for the Caps, though the network made a point to include some less-traditional teams and matchups on the season, as well as an extended look at the Western Conference.
That includes an Oct. 24 matchup between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets, a pair of up-and-coming teams that U.S. fans might not have as much exposure to. Fans will also get a chance to see Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers take on Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 13.
“With the impressive growth of fan interest in non-traditional NHL markets combined with the emergence of a number of rising stars, we felt the time was right to broaden our Wednesday night schedule and evolve the brand," Flood said. “We are touching Canada in a way we never have before.”
The Oilers lead the way among Canadian squads with seven NBC Sports appearances, with the Leafs right behind at six. The Jets will be on five times, while the Calgary Flames get a pair of games and the Montreal Canadiens have one. A pair of rebuilding Canadian teams, the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks, don't have any games slated at this point, but could be flexed in.
Of course, there will also be the usual standbys that avid hockey watchers have come to expect: The Chicago Blackhawks will be featured a league-leading 19 times, while the Capitals are second with 18 games on NBC Sports. The Philadelphia Flyers have 17, the Penguins have 15, the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers can be seen nationally 14 times apiece. Among those matchups are the 2019 Winter Classic between the Bruins and Blackhawks at Notre Dame Stadium on Jan. 1 and 2019 Stadium Series game between Keystone State rivals Pittsburgh and the Flyers on Feb. 23. The 2019 NHL All-Star Skills Competition will be aired on NBCSN on Jan. 25, followed by the All-Star Game getting its first turn on a live network broadcast since 1997 the following day on NBC.
A full look at the NHL on NBC schedule can be found here.