Tomas Fleischmann, Kari Lehtonen

Stars schedule presents ample opportunity for prolonged losing streaks

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.”

Dallas Stars schedule analysis

Total mileage: 49,622 (5th most in NHL, but only 3rd most in the Pacific Division)

Back-to-back games: 14

Toughest stretches
The Stars have three separate spans that will test whether the team is worthy of the playoffs this season. From November 6 – November 12, the Stars travel to Carolina, Washington, Pittsburgh, and Detroit. The second test is the toughest road-trip of the season in December. Between December 8 – December 16, the Stars will see both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans on the same road trip. Three games in four nights against the New York area teams will be a tough way to wrap up the trip. Finally, Dallas finishes the season with five of their last seven games away from home. If they’re in the midst of a playoff battle, they’ll have to prove they can win on the road if they want a spot in the postseason.

Easiest periods

Whether the Stars repeat their quick start of last season or falter out of the gate, they’ll have a vitally important stretch from November 11 through December 3 that they will need to take advantage of. Seven of the ten games are at the American Airlines Center; just as importantly, just about all of the games are against teams that are projected to struggle next season. They’ll get dates with the Panthers, Oilers, Islanders, Senators, Coyotes, Maple Leafs, and a pair against the Avalanche. They need to win—they need to win a lot.

Overall outlook

Only in the Pacific Division can a team be forced to travel the fifth most miles in the league, yet still have two other teams in the same division with tougher schedules. The good thing is they don’t have any prolonged road trips that some teams will have to deal with. The bad part is they have a quite a few potential rough patches scattered throughout the season that could pose problems. No matter what they do—they better get off to a good start and have some wiggle room by the end of March. If they are in a position where they need to gain ground over the last two weeks of the season, it’ll be an uphill battle.

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

Jarret Stoll, Mats Zuccarello
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For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.

This post will be updated if there’s video of that staggering sequence.

Welcome back, Babs: Red Wings chase Bernier

Mike Babcock
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Mike Babcock admitted that there might be a painful transformation as he tries to fix the Toronto Maple Leafs.

His old friends made that abundantly, painfully clear on Friday.

As of this writing, the Detroit Red Wings are up 4-0 on the Buds. Justin Abdelkader just completed a hat trick with James Reimer in net, so the subplot isn’t just about Jonathan Bernier having another tough start.

The big story might just be Detroit’s varied new line of Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin (who scored his first career goal) and Henrik Zetterberg. At the moment, they’ve combined for seven points.

This post will be updated if Detroit’s tribute video to Babcock surfaces.

Really, though, this beating has been about as ugly as this blanket so far.

Here’s video of Abdelkader’s hat trick: