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.”
Carolina Hurricanes schedule analysis
Total mileage: 38,114 (11th lowest in NHL, second lowest in Southeast)
Back-to-back games: 16
After opening the 2011-12 season at home against the Lightning (the team that ended their 10-11 season in the same venue), the Hurricanes play six of their next seven games on the road, closing out that tough run with back-to-back games – Oct. 21 against St. Louis; Oct. 22 against Winnipeg.
Things are smooth through November until they run into another tough string in December (although that one is more manageable, with five of six games away from Carolina).
February features a moderately challenging five in seven game stretch, but the last big hurdle comes in March. If they can come out the other side of this gauntlet intact, they might make the playoffs:
March 6: at Washington
March 7: at Buffalo
March 10: at Tampa Bay
March 11: at Florida
March 13: at NY Rangers
March 15: home vs. St. Louis
March 17: at Minnesota
March 18: at Winnipeg
March 21: home vs. Florida
March 23: at Columbus
March 24: at Detroit
March 27: at Toronto
That’s 10 out of 12 games on the road, including a five-game away run to start things off. That dirty dozen includes four sets of back-to-back games to boot. Even if some of those teams were unsuccessful in 2010-11, their fortunes could be very different next season. The mere grind of that run alone could be very harmful, although the flip side is that the Hurricanes could really come together for a playoff run by weathering that storm.
Their rough beginning to the season is mostly matched by a five-in-six span of home games in late October to early November. November is a mostly solid month, with 10 home games and five road contests.
There are little pockets of opportunity in December or January, though nothing that should make-or-break their 2011-12 season.
Late February to early March is that special chance, though. They play six consecutive games at home from Fe. 20 to March 3, although all but one of those teams made the playoffs last season. Still, they really need to stock up points in that run because those dates are surrounded by road-heavy streaks.
The Hurricanes complained almost incessantly about certain parts of their season in 10-11. To some extent, they had some reasons to do so, although those tough times were balanced by solid chances to make a difference. Ultimately, it came down to their last game and they blew it. (In case you’re wondering, the Hurricanes close their 11-12 season on April 7 against the Panthers in Florida.)
Carolina’s travel schedule is reasonable and while some of their back-to-backs are placed inconveniently, they shouldn’t have many schedule-related excuses at their disposal if they fall short next season.