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.”
Phoenix Coyotes schedule analysis
Total mileage: 49,192 (sixth highest total in NHL, but only fourth in the Pacific Division)
Back-to-back games: 13
You know it’s going to be a rough season when the season opening three game road trip barely registers a blimp on the schedule analysis. There are two stretches of games that Coyotes fans should circle on their calendars as potential pitfalls. The first comes in the middle of November when Phoenix embarks on a five game road trip against four very difficult teams. The face the Sharks on November 12, only to fly across the country to play the Leafs, Flyers, Sabres, and Caps.
The next tough test is an eight game stretch that starts on December 29. The Stars will play eight games in eight different cities over the course of two weeks. The quality of competition may not be the most difficult, but it’s never easy to live out of a suitcase for a prolonged period of time.
Just like the team has extending periods on the road, the Coyotes also have a couple of extend stretches in Glendale. Early in the season (starting October 15), the Coyotes play 9 out of 11 games at home over the course of the month. They’ll get plenty of rest and will need to take advantage of the home cookin’ as they try to get off to a quick start. Later in the year, the Coyotes play 8 of 9 games at home between January 19 and February 11. Unfortunately, the teams visiting Jobing.com Arena are a little tougher the second time around—but extending homestands are opportunities to collect points.
All in all, the Coyotes schedule is a complete mess this season. They may have one of the easier schedules (mileage wise) in the Pacific Division, but it’s still one of the most difficult when it comes to the entire league. With extended periods on the road, Phoenix could fall into funks that last for two weeks at a time. On the other hand, extended stretches at the Jobing.com Arena could help the Coyotes string victories together and spread hope around the Valley of the Sun. The trick for Phoenix will be to maximize the homestands and minimize the damage when they’re away from Arizona.
The National Hockey League has suspended Montreal Canadiens forward Andrew Shaw for three preseason games for boarding defenseman Connor Hobbs of the Washington Capitals in an exhibition game Tuesday.
Shaw was given a major penalty and a game misconduct on the play, as he slammed Hobbs “through the numbers, with speed” from behind into the end glass, as per Thursday’s video from the NHL outlining the suspension.
From the video: “It is important to note that Hobbs is never eligible to be checked by Shaw on this play. From the moment Shaw arrives at the faceoff dot, he sees nothing but Hobbs’ numbers. Hobbs makes no sudden movement just prior to contact that turns this hit from a legal hit into an illegal one.
“The onus is on Shaw to ensure that he can deliver this hit in a legal fashion, minimize the force, or avoid this hit completely. Instead, he hits forcefully through Hobbs from behind, driving him dangerously into the glass.”
In a bid to land a gritty forward to their lineup, the Habs acquired Shaw from the Blackhawks, who had been dealing with a cap crunch, during the NHL Draft. He later signed a six-year contract extension with Montreal.
Clarke MacArthur suffered yet another concussion after being hit by Patrick Sieloff during a scrimmage over the weekend, but the veteran Ottawa Senators forward doesn’t plan on retiring.
Last season, the 31-year-old MacArthur played in only four games for the Senators due to concussions. According to the Ottawa Sun, he suffered four concussions in an 18th-month span.
Despite this latest concussion, MacArthur is still, at least publicly, planning to work toward a return to game action, saying in a post on Instagram that he was “encouraged” by how his body has reacted following this most recent incident.
“First off, I want to thank the team and its fans for all the support after the unfortunate incident on Sunday. To me, it was simply a hockey play that ended in a hit causing me to suffer a concussion, a play that could happen at any point,” MacArthur wrote on his social media page.
“We have been encouraged by how my body had reacted in the days since the injury and the team has been great to give me all the time I need to rest and recover. I will continue to consult with doctors and my entire support group, but I felt it important to let everyone know that my intentions are to work towards returning to the ice soon.”
Senators focus on MacArthur’s safety
You couldn’t blame the Blues for freaking out a bit today when Jaden Schwartz left practice after an apparent hand injury, and didn’t return.
It was last October, of course, when Schwartz fractured his ankle during practice, an injury that required surgery and sidelined him for 49 games.
Thankfully for St. Louis, it won’t be deja vu.
From the Post-Dispatch:
Coach Ken Hitchcock said Schwartz was fine but would miss some practice.
“He’ll need a couple days off, but he’s a lot like Fabbri,” Hitchcock said. “He’s probably not going to skate this weekend in any of the games but he’ll be ready to go next weekend.
“He’s day to day. He’ll be fine.”
Signed to a five-year, $26.75 million extension this summer, Schwartz will be a big piece of the Blues moving forward.
He’s coming off a good playoff run — 14 points in 20 games — and the club is hopeful he can build on the goalscoring form shown in ’13-14 (25 tallies) and ’14-15 (a career-high 28).
Nikita Kucherov will not report to Tampa Bay Lightning training camp until he’s signed. The 23-year-old winger is not currently under contract, though as a restricted free agent he is partially under club control.
From the Tampa Bay Times, which confirmed through GM Steve Yzerman that Kucherov would not be reporting:
Kucherov, the team’s leading scorer last season, could warrant $6 million or more annually. And that makes it difficult for the Lightning, which has between $5-5.5 million of cap space remaining, per CapFriendly.com. It begs the question whether Tampa Bay may need to make another move to create room. With the season opening two weeks from today, no deal appears imminent.
Yzerman said earlier in the month that he can get Kucherov signed without making a trade, but as mentioned, no deal has been reached yet.
Kucherov is one of a handful of high-profile RFAs who remain unsigned as the regular season approaches. The others are Johnny Gaudreau, Rasmus Ristolainen, Jacob Trouba, Hampus Lindholm, Rickard Rakell, and Tobias Rieder, the latter of whom requested a trade yesterday.
Trouba has also requested a trade.
Related: Ristolainen, still without a contract, makes ‘good will’ gesture towards Sabres