They can't all be Blackhawks outdoor games.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have played one nationally-televised game per year seemingly like clockwork over the past few seasons, but they'll get a double dose this year thanks to NBC reworking their broadcast format.
|Feb. 18, 2019||vs||Tampa Bay Lightning||NBCSN|
|March 7, 2019||at||Pittsburgh Penguins||NBCSN|
Not unexpected is the lack of games on the NBC's flagship station, as the club's national appearances have been relegated to NBC Sports Network (formerly: Versus Network or occasional games on NHL Network) for over a decade. The last regular season Blue Jackets game on NBC was all the way back in April of 2007, a 4-1 loss at home to Detroit.
The Blue Jackets have had some memorable games on NBCSN lately, though. Back in the 2014-15 season, Sidney Crosby and Brandon Dubinsky dropped the gloves in front of a national television audience (and presumably cole slaw-soaked in-arena audience) in a memorable 2-1 road win for the Jackets.
After that, Columbus dropped its only regular season national games in each of the next two seasons before a 5-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres in a Wednesday Night Rivalry(?) game on NBCSN.
Also worth noting is that NBC's NHL coverage is apparently going to look a lot different next season, as the network and league look to show off a wider breadth of hockey markets and arenas. The Pittsburgh Penguins, for example, will be on the NBC family of networks just 15 times this season.
If that still sounds like a lot (which it is, compared to Columbus' two appearances), consider that over the last four seasons, the Pens have graced the peacock's channels 68 times in the regular season, so 15 represents a slight decline from the usual frequency. Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks continue to be television darlings, with 19 appearances this year. That'll bring their five-year total to a staggering 98 appearances – and that's just a regular season total.
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