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For the fourth season in a row, NBC is using "flex scheduling" with its "Game of the Week," in which one game is selected from a few options at least 13 days before the broadcast.

This enables NBC to change on the fly in the event some matchups aren't as compelling in February as they appeared to be in August.

It also allows St. Louis Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning fans to get all excited about seeing their teams listed on the NBC schedule ... even though there's a better chance of seeing Bettman do a keg stand at the Kovalchuk family picnic than seeing that game trump Crosby vs. Ovechkin on Super Bowl Sunday.

The great thing about flex scheduling is that the NBC docket almost becomes a "Choose Your Own Adventure" hockey tale. For example:

Scenario 1: Every weekend of NBC's coverage could feature Alex Ovechkin(notes), Sidney Crosby(notes) or the Philadelphia Flyers.

Scenario 2: Each weekend of the season, save for one, could feature the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. the Washington Capitals or a New York-area team in action.

Scenario 3: The Minnesota Wild could appear on NBC more than the Boston Bruins.

See? Hours of fun.

As Lepore pointed out on Puck The Media, there is something new on NBC for U.S. hockey fans:

HOCKEY DAY IN AMERICA As part of Hockey Weekend Across America in 2011, the NHL and NBC Sports will salute the roots of the sport with Hockey Day in America on Sunday, Feb. 20. Launched by USA Hockey in 2008, Hockey Weekend Across America is a nationwide initiative to celebrate the game and those involved at all levels and to expose hockey to new audiences. NBC Sports will celebrate the day-long event with regional NHL coverage. More details about Hockey Day in America will be released at a later date.

So the games listed on Feb. 20 will all be seen locally. Obviously, the big question: Will Mike Milbury be received with the same fanfare as Don Cherry is on Hockey Day in Canada?

Looking at the options here, what do you think the NBC schedule will be this season?

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