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.”
Colorado Avalanche schedule analysis
Total mileage: 48,945 (eighth most miles in NHL and 3rd most in the Northwest Division)
Back-to-back games: 10
People around the Avalanche probably won’t be saying Happy 2012 come January. The team doesn’t play consecutive games at home for the entire month which means the team will basically be living out of a suitcase. They play an eight game stretch between December 31 and January 16 when they play in eight different cities. As if that wasn’t difficult enough, all but one of the games will be against Western Conference opponents. Needless to say, they’ll need to figure out a way to keep their head above water throughout the month.
Take January and combine it with an Eastern Conference road trip at the beginning of the season and it will be important for the Avalanche to maintain a bit of consistency.
There’s no question the Avalanche will need to take advantage of their eight-game homestand between November 18 and December 4. Unfortunately for the Avs, they’ll need to deal with the Sharks and Canucks at the beginning of the homestand and the Red Wings to close the home dates. Depending on how individual teams perform, Colorado could have a relatively easy stretch at the end of October/beginning of November with games against the Flames, Oilers, Kings, Coyotes, and Stars. They’ll need to beat the other fringe playoff teams in the Western Conference if they want to sneak into one of the last playoff spots.
Unfortunately for the young Avalanche team, they’re season could be over almost as quickly as it gets started. After the opening night game at home against the Red Wings, they’ll have a tough five-game Eastern Conference road trip. When they return, they’ll be greeted by a home-and-home with the Chicago Blackhawks. The season could be a nightmare before Halloween. Like just about every other team in the Northwest Division, they’ll spend plenty of time flying from city to city. If they want to compete for a playoff spot, they’ll have to beat up on the likes of the Oilers, Flames, and Wild during their six interdivisional games. Otherwise, they’ll be counting the miles from Pepsi Center to the 2012 Entry Draft in Pittsburgh.
The New York Rangers weren’t ecstatic that Chris Tierney‘s 4-4 goal sent their game to overtime against the San Jose Sharks, but either way, getting beyond regulation punched their ticket to the playoffs on Tuesday night.
For the seventh season in a row, the Rangers are in the NHL’s postseason. They fell to the Sharks 5-4 in overtime, so they haven’t locked down the first wild-card spot in the East … yet. It seems like a matter of time, however.
The Rangers have now made the playoffs in 11 of their last 12 tries, a far cry from the barren stretch where the Rangers failed to make the playoffs from 1997-98 through 2003-04 (with the lockout season punctuating the end of that incompetent era).
New York has pivoted from the John Tortorella days to the Vigneault era, and this season has been especially interesting as they reacted to a 2016 first-round loss to the Penguins by instituting a more attacking style. The Metropolitan Division’s greatness has overshadowed, to some extent, how dramatic the improvement has been.
This result seems like a tidy way to discuss Tuesday’s other events.
The drama ends up being low for the Rangers going forward, and while there might be a shortage of life-or-death playoff struggles, the battles for seeding look to be fierce.
There’s something beautiful about the symmetry on Tuesday … unless you’re a Detroit Red Wings fans, maybe.
On the same night that the longest active NHL playoff streak ended at 25 for Detroit, the longest playoff drought concluded when the Edmonton Oilers clinched a postseason spot by beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.
The Oilers haven’t reached the playoffs since 2005-06, when Chris Pronger lifted them to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.
In doing so, other dominoes fell. Both the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks also punched their tickets to the postseason.
The Sharks, of course, hope to exceed last season’s surprising run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.
Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks continue their run of strong postseasons, even as their Cup win fades to the background ever so slightly. All three teams are currently vying for the Pacific Division title.
The Western Conference’s eight teams are dangerously close to being locked into place, as the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues are all close to looking down their spots as well.
Want the East perspective? Check out this summary of Tuesday’s events from the perspective of the other conference.
Members of the Ottawa Senators were quick to come to Craig Anderson‘s blunder (see above) in Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and it’s easy to see why.
It’s not just about his personal struggles, either. When Anderson’s managed to play, he’s been flat-out phenomenal, generating a .927 save percentage that ranks near a Vezina-type level (if he managed to play more than 35 games).
Goaltending has been a huge reason why Ottawa has at least a shot of winning the Atlantic or at least grabbing a round of home-ice advantage, so unlike certain instances where teams shield a goalie’s failures, the defenses are absolutely justified.
Anderson, on the other hand, was very hard on himself.
You have to admire Anderson for taking the blame, even if in very much “hockey player” fashion, he’s not exactly demanding the same sort of credit for his great work this season.
When we look back at the 2016-17 season for the Detroit Red Wings, it will be remembered for some said endings.
It began without Pavel Datsyuk. We knew that their last game at Joe Louis Arena this season would be their last ever. And now we know that Joe Louis Arena won’t be home to another playoff run.
After 25 straight seasons of making the playoffs – quite often managing deep runs – the Red Wings were officially eliminated on Tuesday night. In getting this far, they enjoyed one of the greatest runs of longevity in NHL history:
Tonight revolves largely around East teams winning and teams clinching bids – the Edmonton Oilers could very well end the league’s longest playoff drought this evening – but this story is more solemn.
EA Sports tweeted out a great infographic:
“Right now it’s hard to talk about it, because you’re a big reason why it’s not continuing,” Henrik Zetterberg said in an NHL.com report absolutely worth your time.
Mike “Doc” Emrick narrated a great look back at Joe Louis Arena here: