Sunday is the third anniversary of Team Canada’s Gold medal victory over the United States’ hockey team in the 2010 Winter Olympics. To celebrate -- well, maybe to mourn the loss -- NBC will broadcast two NHL games for “Hockey Day in America,” an annual event inspired by the venerable CBC-orchestrated tradition in Canada.
The Buffalo Sabres will host the Pittsburgh Penguins at 12:30 p.m. EST before the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings face off against the Chicago Blackhawks at 3:30 p.m. EST. Both games will be available for streaming on NBC Sports online.
NHL Game Center subscribers will be blacked out of all three games because they’re each being broadcast by a major network.
It’s fitting that the Sabres will take on the Penguins on Sunday, as Pittsburgh’s franchise player -- and face of the NHL -- Sidney Crosby scored the medal-winning Olympic goal on Buffalo’s goalie, Ryan Miller.
The two are certainly familiar with each other, as Crosby has scored 29 career points in the 21 games he’s played against Buffalo. That’s not including the shootout winner he put past Miller during the inaugural NHL Winter Classic in 2008.
Regular analysts Mike Milbury, Keith Jones and Liam McHugh will comment on the games through intermission and curate the festivities from an outdoor ice rink in New York City. NBC Sports reporter Michelle Beadle and former NHL sniper Jeremy Roenick will try to attract the non-hockey fan to the sport by providing fluff pieces throughout the day.
The most exciting game of the day might be between the Kings and Blackhawks. Los Angeles, playing in their first regular season since winning the championship last year, has been inconsistent, often struggling against subpar teams. Chicago, on the other hand, has emerged as a Stanley Cup favorite with the emergence of young goaltender (and fantasy hockey favorite) Corey Crawford.
Rob Schoenbach, a public school science teacher who serves as a volunteer coach in Harlem, said the league’s emphasis on growing hockey has benefitted kids across the country.
“We’re trying to also create a bigger scope for the kids themselves,” Schoenbach told NHL.com. “They get to socialize and have the experience of being on a team, and the team isn’t just at the rink or in the locker room — we’re creating a community.”