NEW YORK (Nov. 17, 2011) — Two tradition-laden franchises skate into the spotlight on a traditional U.S. sports day — Thanksgiving Friday — when the Boston Bruins host the Detroit Red Wings in the 2011 Discover NHL Thanksgiving Showdown™, broadcast live on NBC and TSN on Friday, November 25 at 1 p.m., ET.
This broadcast launches NBC’s coverage of the NHL for the season, making it the earliest NHL regular season broadcast on national U.S. network television in more than 20 years.
The Bruins’ ‘Spoked B’ and the Red Wings’ ‘Winged Wheel’ have been iconic symbols for decades. The Bruins are the NHL’s oldest U.S.-based club, having made their debut in 1924-25. The Red Wings are next, having entered the League in 1926-27 with the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers.
The 2011 Discover NHL Thanksgiving Showdown™ will be the only Boston-Detroit regular-season meeting in 2011-12 and the 579th all-time in a series that turns 85 tomorrow. On Nov. 18, 1926, the Bruins beat the Cougars, the original Detroit team nickname, 2-0 in their inaugural encounter, played in Windsor, Ontario, where Detroit played its home games that season. The all-time series is very close — 248 victories for the Red Wings, 235 for the Bruins and 95 ties. The Bruins have scored 1,741 goals, the Red Wings 1,732.
In postseason play, the Bruins and Red Wings rank 1-2 in Stanley Cups won by U.S.-based franchises (Detroit 11, Boston six). They have faced off seven times in a Stanley Cup Playoff series, most recently in 1957, with the Bruins holding a 4-3 advantage. They have met in the Stanley Cup Final twice, both in a three-year span during World War II (1941 and 1943).
The game also continues the Bruins’ custom of hosting a “Black Friday” matinee — a tradition that began in 1990.
Beyond history and tradition, this match-up features a compelling collection of stars and storylines:
* Nicklas Lidstrom, the 41-year-old Red Wings captain playing in his 20th NHL season, is the reigning Norris Trophy winner as the League’s top defenseman. He has captured the award seven times; the only player who has won it more is Bruins legend Bobby Orr (eight). On Friday, Lidstrom became the first player in NHL history to play in 900 regular-season wins with one team. Should he appear in each of Detroit’s games before Thanksgiving, Lidstrom will play in his 1,515th career NHL game at Boston, passing Red Wings legend Steve Yzerman (1,514) into 13th place on the League’s all-time list.
* Boston’s Tim Thomas captured the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top regular-season goaltender, the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the Stanley Cup in 2010-11, becoming the first player to win all three in the same season since Bernie Parent of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1974-75. Thomas, a native of Flint, Mich., also captured the Vezina Trophy in 2008-09.
* Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk won the Lady Byng Trophy for skill and sportsmanship for four consecutive seasons (2006 through 2009), matching the longest streak by any player since the trophy’s inception in 1925. Datsyuk also captured the Frank Selke Trophy as the League’s top defensive forward three consecutive times (2008 through 2010).
* Bruins defenseman and captain Zdeno Chara won the Norris Trophy in 2008-09 and has been voted among the three finalists for the award in three of the past four seasons.
* Red Wings left wing Henrik Zetterberg captured the Conn Smythe Trophy during Detroit’s most recent Stanley Cup triumph in 2008. Zetterberg is one just six NHL players to tally at least 68 points in each of the past six seasons (Zetterberg, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Joe Thornton, Eric Staal, Alex Ovechkin).
* 19-year-old sophomore center Tyler Seguin leads the Bruins with 20 points (11 goals, nine assists) in 16 games. He and Carolina’s Jeff Skinner are the only teenagers to top their club in scoring. The second overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft leads the NHL in plus-minus (+15) and is tied for third place overall in game-winning goals (three). His 11 goals match the total he recorded in 74 games during his rookie season of 2010-11.
* The Red Wings have qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for 20 consecutive seasons, the longest active streak among the four major pro sports, and have posted 100-or-more points for an NHL-record 11 consecutive campaigns.
* Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard ranks among the top five NHL goaltenders in goals-against average (third, 1.69), wins (T-fifth, eight), save percentage (third, .935) and shutouts (T-first, three). The only other goaltender among the top five in each category is Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings.
* After closing the month of October at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a 3-7-0 record, the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins have reeled off six consecutive wins, outscoring the opposition 34-13 during the streak.