Panthers to get four games on national television this season

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 11: Stephen Weiss #9 of the Florida Panthers controls the puck in front of Brad Richards #19 of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on December11, 2011 in New York City. Rangers defeated the Panthers 6-1. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

The 2012-2013 NHL season national television schedules have been released and the Panthers' national coverage this season will quadruple. The Panthers had all of one regular season game on national television last year. NBC Sports rebroadcast ROOT Sport's telecast of the Pittsburgh Penguins home opener, which was against the Panthers. This year, NHL Network will broadcast one game, and NBC Sports will show three. That is, provided the season starts on time.

The schedule and more, after the jump.

The schedule, as it currently stands is:

DATE
TEAMS
TIME NETWORK
Oct 15, 2012
Florida @ Washington
7:30 PM
NBCSN
Oct 22, 2012
Florida @ NY Islanders
7:30 PM
NBCSN
Dec 31, 2012
NY Rangers @ Florida
7:00 PM
NBCSN
Mar 21, 2013
Florida @ NY Rangers
7:00 PM
NHLN-US

As in last year's lone game, the first two of the four are in the early weeks of the season. If there is a lockout, these games will probably not happen. Something in the Panthers' scheduling madness seems to have lucked them into these games, as they're the only Eastern Conference games on those nights, which is probably how the Islanders managed their lone appearance on national television this year.

The last game is somewhat surprising, mostly because there's a CBC broadcast of New Jersey at Montreal at the same time, which seems more of a natural for NHL Network, which relies on rebroadcasting feeds. It is, however, the only game between to US based teams at 7:00 that evening.

The one that has me excited, though, is the third game. Not just because at three months into the season, it's more likely to happen than the early games. Not only did the Panthers finally honor their promise to end the tradition of hosting the Montreal Canadiens on New Year's Eve, a tradition which has been much criticized in these pages, but they replaced it with no less a marquee game against the Rangers. Normally I would be at the New Year's Eve game, but I have recently moved to upstate New York and will be spending the holidays here. I would have watched the game on television anyway, on Center Ice, but I'm flabbergasted that NBC actually picked this game over a Washington-Pittsburgh game at the same time. Ratings probably won't be great, so why not broadcast the game with the biggest potential audience, right?

Whatever their reasons, it will be nice to see one game not on a Monday night or buried on NHL Network this season.

A quick note about this year's Canadian television broadcasts for our readers in Canada: This year will as usual feature all four games against the Canadiens (12/28, 1/8, 3/10, 4/9) on RDS, but CBC's usual coverage of games against the Leafs will be replaced by coverage of two games against the Winnipeg Jets (11/3 and 2/2, both in Florida).

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