Today the NHL released the national television schedule for the upcoming 2011-2012 season. For us American viewers the Ducks will be shown on Versus/NBC Sports six times and the NHL Network two times. Even with flex scheduling (like the NFL on NBC has at the end of the season), the team will not be shown on NHL on NBC. A lot of it has to do with time zones. The Ducks aren't going to draw a big home crowd at 10am on a Saturday or Sunday morning. I'm not complaining about that last part, seeing as the Ducks received ONE game on Versus last season and it was blacked-out in Orange County.
Before the NHL realizes what it has done by airing eight Ducks games on the national schedule, lets take a look at the matches deemed worthy enough by the NHL for the national audience - snarky commentary included.
Expect the Ducks to be coming off an emotional game as they play the season premiere on the 6th against the re-vamped Buffalo Sabres in Helsinki, Finland. How we ended up the Away Team in Helsinki and the Home Team in Sweden, I have no idea. I'm pretty sure we employ half the Finnish national team. Anyhoo, the Ducks will be facing a Rangers team they don't see very much. While the Ducks will spend the 7th traveling, the Rangers will be playing their season opener versus the new look Los Angeles Kings. The Rangers are starting their season overseas with new addition Brad Richards. This will also be the first time the Rangers hit the ice without fallen enforcer Derek Boogaard who passed away in the off-season.
Versus #2: 11/01/11 - Anaheim Ducks at Washington Capitals - 4:30pm PST
Why in the world would the NHL pick the Capitals? OH, yeah, that Ovechkin guy. Some people call Ovi the Great 8 (Robby for sure isn't one of them because of this clip). I'd like to think we've got a Great 8 of our own. Cross your fingers the latter will be in the game. The Caps are another East Coast team we don't see very much. The last time the Ducks and Capitals met, it was at Honda Center on February 18th. Remember that game? The score was 7-6 with a hatty by Alexander Semin, 11 players scoring goals, and 20 players receiving points. An offensive extravaganza, if you will. Hopefully with a healthy Jonas Hiller, the Ducks won't have to worry about the scary - yet streaky - fire power of the Capitals. One more thing, remember that Joel Ward guy from the playoffs? He left Smashville for K-Street. Bet he's just as annoying there too. Also, this is my half birthday.
NHL Network #1: 11/03/11 - Anaheim Ducks at New York Rangers - 4:00pm PST
Ok, this feels like a first, seeing the Rangers twice in one season. I'm not prepared for this kind of analysis. Hopefully there is some bad blood stirred up back in Sweden and the anger continues in NYC. Silly me, how have I not mentioned Sean Avery? Look for him to go a couple rounds with George Parros and offer MVP Corey Perry some fashion and modeling advice. Ooh, maybe King Henrik's BFF Justin Beiber will be there. That has got to be an interesting locker room.
Versus #3: 12/09/11 - Anaheim Ducks at Dallas Stars - 5:00pm PST
I'll admit, playing Dallas last season was, well, kinda awesome. From everyone's favorite butterfly Lubomir Visnovsky's first hat trick by a Ducks defenseman to Old Reliable Teemu Selanne's last minute heroics. Dallas is returning back with pretty much the same team minus one big part - Brad Richards (remember him? We've now seen him twice this season). When I wrote a preview for Defending Big D, I mentioned a Duck Hunter named Loui Eriksson. He absolutely owns the Ducks, and scored a point in every game versus us last season. If the Ducks can contain him, they've got a pretty good shot.
NHL Network #2: 02/10/12 - Anaheim Ducks at Detroit Red Wings - 4:30pm PST
What can I say that you don't already know? We absolutely SUCK playing at The Joe. Remember the season opener last season when we got shelled, and Corey Perry threw down with perennial Lady Byng winner (and BAMF) Pavel Datsyuk? I will take getting destroyed on the ice if that's what it takes for Perry to drop the gloves with Pavel again, seeing as Corey went on to be the MVP and Pavel was robbed of the Selke. This is also the battle of "Which Old Guy is Better?" The good Lord willing, Teemu will be on the ice against 102 year old Nicklas Lidstrom. Lidstrom, a few months older than Selanne, signed a two year deal in the off-season. We could only be so lucky to get the same with Selanne. Now if we could only figure out what Nicky does to stay so healthy, we'd be set for another 10 years.
Versus #4 - 02/14/12 - Anaheim Ducks at Minnesota Wild - 4:30pm PST
Boys, notice the date of this game. Being a female editor, I believe it's in my contract that I have to remind you all that this game falls on February 14th - Valentine's Day. More likely than not, your lady isn't like me and doesn't want to spend her Valentine's Day in front of the tv watching the Minnesota Sharks...err...Minnesota Wild play your favorite team. Set the DVR, get some Ducks orange roses for her, and have a lovely evening together. You'll thank me later when the Ducks, and you, score. (Since I tortured Robby earlier with the YouTube clip of Bobby Ryan getting destroyed, here's my redemption clip from one of my favorite moments of the 2010-11 season.)
Versus #5 - 02/26/12 - Chicago Blackhawks versus Anaheim Ducks - 7:00pm PST
Here we go! Our first (and last) nationally televised, non-Swedish, home game! The usual suspects will be there, but as of right now, the real question is - will Ray Emery be a part of Chicago's team? As of writing this, Emery has not signed with a club, and has only been invited to try out for a roster spot with Chicago. I know a lot of us aren't happy with having to give Ray up. I can only hope he's cut by Chicago and not in the net to face us. He can be so good, and after the months of practice against RPG, I imagine he knows enough to stop them in a game. If you go to the game, and everyone should, make the place look packed and be loud.
Versus #6 - 03/12/11 - Anaheim Ducks at Colorado Avalanche - 6:00pm PST
This game was a surprise. Colorado is rebuilding and not expected to do much behind the young stars of Matt Duchene, Erik Johnson, and Chris Stewart. There is one familiar face, though. Jean-Sebastien Giguere signed a two-year deal in Colorado as a free agent after a few lackluster seasons in Toronto. Assuming he has the #1 spot, I hate playing against Jiggy. He's done so much for the organization, but then again, I want to win. At this point in the season, the Ducks are either in position for a playoff spot or clawing to hold on to one. No mercy.
Ugh. Seriously, is it October yet?