by Forechecker on 10/06/08 at 01:29 PM ET
As the Rangers, Lightning, Senators and Penguins return from their European adventure, there is sure to be some hand-wringing from their fans that unfair travel requirements are going to undermine the start to their season.
Outside of perhaps the Lightning, those claims are pure hogwash. The other three teams have it relatively easy when it comes to travel. For all the details behind the 2008-9 Regular Season schedule, including how many total miles each team will log and the relative strength of opposition each night, check out my NHL Super Schedule.
Posted as a Google Spreadsheet that is freely available for download (you can export it easily to your favorite spreadsheet program), the NHL Super Schedule includes data for each game of each team’s regular season. You can find the number of days that have passed since their previous game (a “1” indicates games on back-to-back nights), the distance traveled, and the 2007-8 final statistics (such as Goals For/Game) for that particular opponent.
Those of you who dig that sort of thing can easily break down strength of opposition by division or conference, along lines of analysis like opponent’s power play or penalty kill percentage, and shots for/against, among others. For example, I’ve summarized total travel miles for each team, along with the number of back-to-back games to be played this year, in the table below:
|Team||Total Travel Distance||Back To Back|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||41305||20|
|Detroit Red Wings||39642||16|
|Los Angeles Kings||44917||15|
|New Jersey Devils||29289||18|
|New York Islanders||28126||17|
|New York Rangers||34603||15|
|San Jose Sharks||56111||14|
|St. Louis Blues||41248||19|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||45812||16|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||33240||13|
If there is anybody with a right to complain, look to the teams traveling over 50,000 miles (San Jose, Calgary, Dallas, Phoenix and Vancouver), or with high numbers of back-to-back games (Columbus leads the league with 20 such dates). Washington, New Jersey, Philadelphia and the Islanders are the only teams traveling shorter than 30,000 miles, and Colorado has a mere 8 back-to-back contests coming up on its schedule (welcome words to Old Joe Sakic, I’m sure).
You can take a sneak peek at the Super Schedule right here, or you can open up the whole sheet and Export it to your own PC for fun & games.
UPDATE (January 14, 2009): Columns M through T (Opp Point % through Opp Shots Against/Game), which relate to the opponent a given team is playing that night, have been updated with current data, so you can run your own analysis to determine which teams have the toughest or easiest set of games heading down the stretch. There are also two new additions are way out there to the right, which are detailed below. There are also two new columns:
1. Column V (“Single Trip?”) was prompted by a question from Mark Stephen, as to how often teams have to make trips for a single game, whether at home or on the road. Those are the situations that really rack up the travel miles, as the alternative is to combine multiple road games on a single journey, such as the typical swings that many Eastern Conference teams will take, hitting Calgary/Edmonton/Vancouver or Los Angeles/Anaheim/San Jose. Simply look count up the “TRUE” values for your favorite team to see how often those occur (the first and last games of the season, if a single game at home, don’t count).
2. Column W (“New Time Zone?”) is another TRUE/FALSE field, which simply notes where a team has changed time zones to play that given game; coaches often bring up this aspect of travel as being particularly troublesome, especially for Columbus and Detroit which are the only Eastern Time Zone teams in the Western Conference.
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