Bruins must stock up on points early in 2011-12 because of tough final three months

With the 2011-12 season rapidly approaching, the gang at PHT decided to take a look at all 30 NHL teams’ schedules. Each team’s highs and lows will be studied in detail to give you an idea of what the future might hold for each squad.

Note: Mileage figures via On the Forecheck’s “Super Schedule.”

Boston Bruins schedule analysis

Total mileage: 33,770 (fifth lowest in NHL, second least in Northeast Division)

Back-to-back games: 13

Toughest stretches

The Bruins start with a cushy schedule, but they’ll pay for it during the last three months of the 2011-12 campaign. Each month has a rough stretch that will test the defending champions.

The first tough run begins in Carolina on Jan. 14, followed by back-to-back road games against Florida and Tampa Bay. The final game of that four-game trip takes place in New Jersey, which is followed by back-to-back afternoon games (home vs. the Rangers on Jan. 22, followed by an NBC game in Philly). That treacherous run concludes two days later in Washington. (Overall, that’s six of seven games on the road with two back-to-back contests.)

The middle of February is rough as well. They’ll play six straight road games in that span, concluding with a game in Buffalo on Feb. 24 followed by a contest versus Ottawa on Feb. 25.

March is a bit more forgiving, but not a cakewalk either, with eight of 12 road games during one span.

Easiest periods

Seven of the Bruins’ first 10 games are at home, which should give the team a nice chance to bulk up for that tough end of the season. Going without back-to-back games in October won’t hurt their cause, either.

The second half of November isn’t fun, but the first half is borderline cuddly. Six of their first seven games are in Boston, including five in a row.

After a scattered December, the Bruins only have a few promising chances to stockpile relatively easy points. January includes a four-game homestand and starts their last above average stretch (five of seven games at home from Jan. 31 to Feb. 14).

Overall outlook

The Bruins have a light travel schedule, a manageable 13 back-to-back games and some excellent opportunities to earn an early buffer.

For that reason, the team should provide a great test for the old “Stanley Cup hangover” cliche. If they indeed stumble out of the gate, things could get sketchy because the end of their season provides some harrowing stretches. Boston finished last season remarkably healthy, but if they might limp into the playoffs in 2011-12.

(Assuming they follow reasonable logic and make the postseason to begin with, of course.)

Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?

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Does the NHL have a cocaine problem?

TSN caught up with deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who provided some fascinating insight:

“The number of [cocaine] positives are more than they were in previous years and they’re going up,” Daly said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis in any sense. What I’d say is drugs like cocaine are cyclical and you’ve hit a cycle where it’s an ‘in’ drug again.”


Daly said that he’d be surprised  “if we’re talking more than 20 guys” and then touched on something that may be a problem: they don’t test it in a “comprehensive way.”

As Katie Strang’s essential ESPN article about the Los Angeles Kings’ tough season explored in June, there are some challenges for testing for a drug like cocaine. That said, there are also some limitations that may raise some eyebrows.

For one, it metabolizes quickly. Michael McCabe, a Philadelphia-based toxicology expert who works for Robson Forensic, told ESPN.com that, generally speaking, cocaine filters out of the system in two to four days, making it relatively easy to avoid a flag in standard urine tests.

The NHL-NHLPA’s joint drug-testing program is not specifically designed to target recreational drugs such as cocaine or marijuana. The Performance Enhancing Substances Program is put into place to do exactly that — screen for performance-enhancing drugs.

So, are “party drugs” like cocaine and molly an issue for the NHL?

At the moment, the answer almost seems to be: “the league hopes not.”

Daly goes into plenty of detail on the issue, so read the full TSN article for more.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.