2010-11 schedule analysis: Who has it the toughest, easiest?

West Coast hockey fans have a lot of beefs. They complain – justifiably or not – about “East Coast bias” and various other slights. People can debate day and night about that one, but there is one thing that you cannot deny: hockey teams in that region are forced to travel a considerable amount more. That really goes for the Western Conference, in general.

Dirk Hoag of On the Forecheck put together another great “super schedule” for the 2010-11 season, with some fascinating information that could provide some insight regarding which teams face the toughest road ahead.

The first thing I want to spotlight is the teams who will travel the most in the league. Here are the 10 most sure-to-be-jet-lagged teams in the NHL, with their rank and the cumulative miles they plan on traveling according to Hoag’s numbers.

1. San Jose Sharks – 55,063 miles
2. Vancouver Canucks – 51,213
3. Minnesota Wild – 50,805
4. Edmonton Oilers – 50,309
5. Phoenix Coyotes – 50,080
6. Calgary Flames – 47,827
7. Anaheim Ducks – 45,868
8. Dallas Stars – 44,880
9. Colorado Avalanche – 44,190
10. Atlanta Thrashers – 44,079

The Sharks already will need to adjust to almost 9,000 extra miles of travel on top of the departure of Evgeni Nabokov and maybe other key figures. Who knows which factor will be a bigger problem for the Sharks? Three Atlantic teams (NYI, NJ and Philly) travel the least of any teams in the league, with the New Jersey Devils experiencing the shortest hockey commute (27,152 miles).

Aside from air travel, the other big scheduling woe that troubles many teams is back-to-back games. Here are the five teams who experience the most of those, also according to Hoag’s awesome spreadsheet.

1. Buffalo Sabres – 22
2. Carolina Hurricanes – 21
3. New Jersey Devils – 20
4. New York Islanders – 20
5. Minnesota Wild – 19

The Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks are tied for the least back-to-backs with 11 and it seems like the schedule makers even some of the tide by giving less to the more road-weary teams. That being said, if I were the GM for the Sabres, Canes or Devils, I’d make sure that my franchise goalie has a stable backup.

Overall, I’d say that the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals have the coziest schedules according to these two factors. The Flyers have the third lowest miles (29,716) and are middle-of-the-pack with 16 back-to-backs; the Caps have the sixth lowest miles total (31,858) and 15 back-to-backs. I think the Minnesota Wild might have it the worst, with the third most miles scheduled and 19 back-to-back games.

I guess it’s all about how you look at it, though. Ultimately, wins and losses come down to talent, skill and coaching. That being said, in a league with such a small margin of error, these factors could make a difference.

(Here’s a link to Dirk’s post one more time. Great stuff from On the Forecheck, as usual)

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    Caggiula expected to sign shortly, Canucks could be front-runners

    during the championship game of the 2016 NCAA Division I Men's Hockey Championships at Amalie Arena on April 9, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.The North Dakota Fighting Hawks defeated the Quinnipiac Bobcats 5-1 to win the national title. Getty
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    College free agent Drake Caggiula is expected to pick a team shortly, possibly even today.

    The University of North Dakota winger had originally shortlisted six teams, according to a report. Those teams were Philadelphia, Edmonton, Ottawa, Vancouver, Chicago and Buffalo.

    TSN’s Bob McKenzie said this morning on Edmonton radio that the Canucks are “maybe” the front-runners to land the 21-year-old. Vancouver signed Caggiula’s teammate, defenseman Troy Stecher, a couple of weeks ago, and Caggiula’s linemate, Brock Boeser, was drafted by the Canucks in the first round last year.

    Recently, Boeser told Postmedia that he was trying to convince Caggiula to sign with Vancouver, where there will be plenty of opportunities for young forwards in the next couple of years.

    If it’s not the Canucks, McKenzie said he’s heard the Oilers have a “puncher’s chance” of getting Caggiula.

    Vigneault will be behind the Rangers’ bench in 2016-17

    New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault runs a practice at NHL hockey training camp Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, in Greenburgh N.Y. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
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    The New York Rangers may have been bounced in the opening round of the 2016 playoffs, but they aren’t looking to make a coaching change. In a phone interview with Montreal’s LaPresse newspaper, Alain Vigneault confirmed that he’ll be back behind the Rangers’ bench next season.

    “I’ve had discussions with the club’s front office and they told me that they wanted me to come back next season,” Vigneault told LaPresse (quotes have been translated by PHT).

    Vigneault and Rangers management will meet in Palm Springs next week to discuss what went wrong in 2015-16.

    Even though the season didn’t go the way the Rangers had hoped, Vigneault insists he was never worried about losing his job.

    “I don’t really worry about that stuff,” Vigneault said of the rumors surrounding his job security. “There’s 82 games in a season plus the playoffs and you can’t start thinking about your fate after each game. After a loss, you forget it and start thinking about the adjustments you need to make. In regards to our situation, we still managed to pick up 101 points this season. That’s a good season, but we still expected more from our team in the playoffs.”

    Like every off-season, there will be changes, but Vigneault isn’t expecting any major ones.

    “There’s definitely going to be changes. I don’t know if there’ll be big changes because today, it’s hard to make big changes. With the salary cap, it’s not realistic to think that way.”

    When pressed about potential changes, Vigneault wasn’t willing to elaborate.

    Vigneault also touched on the way Dan Boyle went after two reporters at the team’s year-end media availability. It’s safe to say he wasn’t thrilled about the way the whole thing went down.

    “It’s a lesson for me and our whole team,” added Vigneault. “It’s disappointing because Dan had a really nice career. He won the Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay, but all people will remember him for is this incident. What happened with him really surprised us. It’s too bad. I hope people will remember him for the career he had.”

    Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

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    The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with one game on Friday night. You can catch tonight’s action via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

    Tampa Bay at NY Islanders (7:00 p.m. ET)

    The TV broadcast of Game 4 will be on NBCSN. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here. The Lightning lead the series 2-1.

    Here’s some relevant reading material you might enjoy:

    No hearings scheduled for Boyle on Hickey hit, or Hickey on Drouin hit

    Lightning take dramatic OT win vs. Islanders, go up 2-1 in series

    WATCH LIVE: Canada-USA (IIHF World Hockey Championship)

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    A huge tilt on day one of the World Hockey Championships, as Canada and the USA clash in Russia. You can watch the game online using the NBC Sports Live Extra app.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    Canada came away with a gold medal in last year’s tournament while the United States took home the bronze. Of course, each team’s roster changes significantly every year.

    The USA’s next game is tomorrow against Belarus. Canada will play Sunday against Hungary.