- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Stanley Cup-champion Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers will get the most of the NHL’s national television spotlight, but the Washington Capitals won’t be hurting for exposure.

Despite a second-round sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning last season, the Caps will be on either NBC or Versus (to be renamed NBC Sports Network) 15 times this coming season, including 11 exclusively.

With the possibility of Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby’s concussion issues continuing into the regular season, Alex Ovechkin could be the top marketable star in the league. The Caps will make their NBC game of the week debut Jan. 22 against the Penguins; they could also be on NBC four other times, though that’s dependent on flex scheduling.

Veteran Mike Knuble likes being part of the league showcase.

“For the players, it makes the game a little more special,” he said Thursday. “That’s like our ‘Monday Night Football.’ I enjoy those games.”

Versus — which will be called NBC Sports Network starting Jan. 2 — will air the Caps at least 10 times throughout the year, six times exclusively. On the four nonexclusive dates, Comcast SportsNet will still show them locally. NHL Network will have the Caps (outside the D.C. area) 15 times.

Meanwhile, the American Hockey League schedule came out, and reports indicated the Hershey Bears could get a taste of outdoor action as part of this year’s Winter Classic in Philadelphia. Nothing has been announced — including the NHL Classic itself that’s expected to feature the New York Rangers and Flyers — but according to several newspapers, the event could include an AHL game between Hershey and the Adirondack Phantoms.