2011-12 schedules

San Jose Sharks v Anaheim Ducks

Back-loaded schedule should help Sharks start strong

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.”

San Jose Sharks schedule analysis

Total mileage: 43,994 (11th most miles in NHL, but least in the Pacific Division)

Back-to-back games: 14

Toughest stretches

The Sharks have two separate trips to the East Coast that could prove to be their toughest stretches of the season. From October 21 – October 31, the Sharks travel East for a six game road trip (five in the Eastern time zone). Later in the season, San Jose will face a much stiffer test with a difficult 9-game road trip in the middle of February. Starting on February 12, the Sharks will face teams from the Central, Southeast, Northeast, and Northwest Divisions. All on the same trip.

Easiest periods

The Sharks are going to have every opportunity to finish the 2011 calendar year with a bang. Between November 3 and December 8, the Sharks will play 12 of 15 games at the Shark Tank. A week later, San Jose will host a six-game homestand that kicks off against the Avalanche and Oilers. The rest of the homestand will be against teams that made the playoffs last season—but the Sharks are an incredibly tough team to play against at the Tank.

Overall outlook

One of the overwhelming positives for the Sharks is that they have a noticeably lighter travel log than any other team in the Pacific Division. November and December will provide the Sharks with a chance to get off to a strong start before the holiday break. They’ll need it too—the nine game road trip in February will loom large if they’re in a battle for playoff positioning.

If the prognosticators are correct, the final two games of the season against the Los Angeles could decide the Pacific Division.

No question: Los Angeles are the kings of the road in 2011-12

Los Angeles Kings v Phoenix Coyotes

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.”

Los Angeles Kings schedule analysis

Total mileage: 55,591 (most miles in NHL; most in Pacific Division)

Back-to-back games: 15

Toughest stretches

The Kings start the season off with a tough stretch as they travel nine time zones to open the season with a back-to-back in Berlin and Stockholm. When they come back to the United States, they’ll make a pit stop on the East Coast to face the Devils and Flyers before they make it back to the West Coast.

By far, the toughest span for the Kings will be in the second half of the season between February 3 and March 11. The Kings will play 14 of 18 games on the road, including five separate back-to-back situations. Within the run of away games, they’ll face off with teams in the Midwest, Southeast, and New York before finally finishing with a pair of games against the Red Wings and Blackhawks.

Easiest periods

The month of January should be kind to the Kings this season. Their friendly stretch of 10 out of 13 games at Staples Center actually starts on New Year’s Eve and runs through February 1. A pair of games against the Flames, Avalanche and Blue Jackets; in addition to games against the Stars, Blue Jackets, Coyotes, and Senators should set up nicely for the team looking for a mid-season hot streak.

Los Angles also has a seven game stretch starting on November 3 when they won’t have to leave California for two weeks.

Overall outlook

By just about any measure, the Kings have a ton of traveling to do this season. They’ll travel more than any other team this season—by a sizeable margin. The Kings 55,591 miles they’ll travel this season is almost 3,000 more than the next closest team (Florida). Starting the season with back-to-back games in Europe set the tone (both of which are somehow “home” games). In fact, they don’t play their first game at Staples Center until October 18.

It’ll be important for the Kings to take advantage of their favorable schedule in January because afterwards they’ll have to deal with an extremely difficult five week stretch of games.

Ducks will have to overcome nightmare schedule to compete

Lubomir Visnovsky, Jonas Hiller

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.”

Anaheim Ducks schedule analysis

Total mileage: 50,296 (third most miles in NHL and second most in the Pacific Division)

Back-to-back games: 13

Toughest stretches

Where to start? The Ducks have a 7-game road trip that runs between October 25 and November 5—a trip that eventually ends up in the Northeast. A couple of weeks later, they have an eight game stretch where they’ll play seven games on the road. While both sound difficult on their own, the Ducks have an even tougher stretch to deal with in February. The eight game road trip that runs from February 11 to February 23 has the potential to destroy a season. The start in Detroit, travel to the Northeast for a couple of games, before flying south to play a few Southeast Division teams.

Oh yeah, they also start the season in Europe for a pair of games against Eastern Conference opponents.

As if all of that wasn’t bad enough, they finish with a three games on the road. If the Ducks are battling for a playoff spot, three games on the road to finish the season could be a huge deal.

Easiest periods

Believe it or not, there are a couple of easier stretches for Anaheim. Starting on November 17, they’ll play eight out of nine games at the Honda Center. The competition may be tough, but the Ducks have proven over the last few years to be a much better team at home than they’ve been on the road.

They also get a six-game homestand starting on December 29 and running through January 10. Even though they’ll have to deal with the Sharks and Canucks during the homestand, they’ll also get to see the Avalanche, Islanders, Blue Jackets, and Stars. There’s no question they’ll need to have a strong homestand and collect the points while they can. For good measure, they have a seven game stretch in March when they never have to leave California.

Overall outlook

The Ducks are one of only three teams who will be forced to travel over 50,000 miles this season. Their travel is the third toughest in the NHL and only trails I-5 rival Los Angeles for toughest travel in the Pacific Division.

By the time they get back from their 8-game road trip in February, they should have a idea if the playoffs are a realistic possibility. Over the course of the season, they’ll have long road trips scattered around long homestands. They’ll need to maintain their focus—whether it’s during extended homestands or long road trips if they want to collect enough points to make the playoffs.

Schedule could cause Coyotes to be streaky next season

Los Angeles Kings v Phoenix Coyotes

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

Toughest stretches

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.

Easiest periods

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.

Overall outlook

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.

Stars schedule presents ample opportunity for prolonged losing streaks

Tomas Fleischmann, Kari Lehtonen

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.