For NHL schedule nerds, Tuesday felt a bit like Christmas.*
On the Forecheck’s Dirk Hoag is mostly retired from hockey blogging, but he still puts out his beloved “super schedule,” and he combined with Alex Daugherty to do a 2017-18 version, which you should absolutely check out here.
Hoag and Daughtery listed all 31 teams’ total miles traveled and also their number of back-to-back games for next season.
Here are the top five teams for most miles:
1. Avalanche – 48,639
2. Flames – 47,931
3. Blackhawks – 47,926
4. Coyotes – 46,856
5. Oilers – 46,815
Note: the Panthers are the sixth-ranked team and face easily the most travel among East teams with 44,395, up from 41,891.
Now, here are the bottom five for travel time:
31: Penguins – 34,041
30: Devils – 34,052
29. Sabres – 34,175
28. Red Wings – 34,759
27. Maple Leafs – 35,689
The Los Angeles Kings tend to be frequent flyers, but not here; they face the least travel of any West team with 39,915.
That’s not the entire picture, however. These teams face the most back-to-back sets:
1 (tied) – Penguins and Senators with 19
3. Hurricanes – 18
4 (tied) Blackhawks, Blue Jackets – 17
6 (tied) Blues, Islanders, Sabres, and Devils – 16
While these teams face the fewest.
1. Jets – 9 (Winnipeg faces 43,296 miles of travel.)
2. Canucks – 10
3 (tied) – Avalanche, Oilers, Predators, Ducks, and Rangers – 11
Oh, and in their inaugural season, the Vegas Golden Knights travel 42,128 miles and face 12 back-to-back sets, so they face a pretty middle-of-the-road haul.
As you can see, plenty of teams see their low travel rates balanced out by high back-to-back game totals. The Penguins are a good example of that.
Then again, some teams just suffer tough draws. As much as conspiracy theorists love to harp on the Blackhawks, they face the third-most travel miles and deal with 17 back-to-back sets.
On The Forecheck’s full list can be seen here, yet they are not the only outlet to do some interesting schedule analysis. Hockey Viz’s Micah Blake McCurdy put together a list of rested/tired games for each team:
Though he also narrowed it down in a way that might make the biggest difference: a rested home team facing a tired road opponent.
Long story short, it’s difficult to really boil down who has the toughest schedule based on one metric. It’s a subjective matter, as you can weigh these “rest/tired” factors, go broad with sheer back-to-back sets, and even lean on jet lag more than anything else.
Still, if you’re the type to wear a tin foil hat, the lists above could really help you cook up some theories about the bad hand your team allegedly drew.
(Opinion: it does seem like Chicago faces more than just salary cap challenges next season, however.)
* – Or whatever holiday resonates. So, Festivus?