NHL schedule 2013: NBC to make history with opening weekend coverage

Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

NBC will air NHL regular season games on back-to-back days for what appears to be the first time ever on broadcast television.

NBC will open this season with an the 2013 NHL schedule with a first. I've gone back and looked through 40 or 50 years of NHL broadcast schedules (albeit, there are about 15 to 20 of those years where the league wasn't on broadcast television), and this will be the first time a major network (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox) will air National Hockey League regular season games on consecutive days.

It's been long-rumored that NBC will open up with a Flyers vs. Penguins national game at 3 p.m. ET on Jan. 19. It appears, however, that NBC will return to the old practice of regionalizing -- half the country will get one game, the other will get another.

The other game? NBC's listings page confirms that they'll be airing the home opener of the Los Angeles Kings, as they raise their banner against the Chicago Blackhawks. The likely result is that NBC will either split the country into east and west, or possibly add in a third game (New York Rangers vs. Boston perhaps?) and further split things up, ensuring a boffo rating.

On Sunday, the Flyers will pull double duty, taking on the Sabres in Buffalo at 12:30 p.m. ET. That game will likely (though it's not official) be nationally televised. Philadelphia is a big, dependable television market and Buffalo has Ryan Miller and a ton of crazies who watch, even though they don't make up that big of a rating. NBC Sports Network will likely begin it's coverage of the league on Sunday the 20th as well. It should be a fantastic weekend for hockey after an awful few months of wondering whether it would survive.

The closest this games-on-two-straight-days thing has ever come to happening, you might ask? That would be Mar. 16 and 18, 1973, when NBC televised a Bruins-Red Wings game in primetime on a Friday night, and then aired a Red Wings-Blackhawks game the following Sunday afternoon.

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