August 23, 2011
When the NHL television schedule is released, the same annual gripes arrive: That the same teams are always being featured, usually against one another. Something along the lines of, "Oh great, [East Coast Team] plays [East Coast Team] … just like every other weekend."
Steve Lepore of Puck The Media put those criticisms to the test: Are there certain matchups that have been chosen by the NHL's U.S. broadcasting partners at a much higher rate than others?
Turns out, there are. Lepore evaluated the schedules for FOX, ABC and NBC going back to the 1993-94 season and confirmed a hierarchy of matchups. From Puck The Media, the top 10:
1. NY Rangers vs. Philadelphia — 24 games
2. Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia — 16 games
3. Detroit vs. Colorado — 15 games
t4. St. Louis vs. Detroit/NY Rangers vs. Boston/Detroit vs. Chicago — 13 games
7. Los Angeles vs. Anaheim — 12 games
t8. NY Rangers vs. Pittsburgh/Colorado vs. Dallas — 11 games
10. NY Rangers vs. New Jersey — 9 games
It also spans different television partners, like when Disney (ABC) had the rights, which might explain the number of Mighty Ducks appearances; and it spans the time from the Lindros Flyers through the NHL's partnership with Comcast, which owns the Flyers.
All of this should tell you to cherish the 2012 Winter Classic for its unprecedented matchup between the Flyers and the Rangers, two teams you've only gotten to see play 23 times in the regular season on U.S. broadcast television since 1994.