Kukla's Korner

The Sabres Observer

Busting The Compacted Schedule Myth

Are you a frustrated Sabres fan?  Tired of wasting time by the water cooler arguing about Thomas Vanek's ice time or Tyler Ennis' lack of faceoff proficiency?  Want to look hockey-smart in front of your friends and co-workers?  Approach them with this ice-cold nugget of trivia:

What are the Buffalo Sabres currently doing, from February 1st to April 8th, for the third straight year?

Answer: Playing 32 NHL hockey games.

That preconceived notion about which you've been hearing, that Buffalo will be faced with the daunting task of playing a greater number of games per week for the duration of the entire season, is just not true.

Sure, the Sabres have to play the entire 48-game schedule over 97 days, as opposed to last season when they played their final 48 games in 104 days.  But that discrepancy is pretty easy to explain when you look at the big one-week hole in the 2012 calendar where there was an all-star break.

In the lockout-shortened season of 2013, Buffalo has 14 games in February, 15 in March, and 3 during the first 8 days of April.  Last year’s numbers in those time frames were nearly identical: 13, 16, and 3.  2011 was pretty much the same story: 12, 16, and 4.  The only real difference in April this year is that the season is extended a few weeks.

When a coach or writer says that the Sabres are having a more difficult time finding days off to practice this season because of a compacted schedule, they're giving bad information.  The actual reason for fewer practice days is the new CBA, which contains rules concerning additional days off which the NHLPA fought for and won.

What about the rest of the Northeast Division?  As far as total games played in the 2/1 - 4/8 time frame: Toronto's and Montreal's numbers are exactly the same as Buffalo's for this season and last,  Boston's schedule was actually more compacted last season, and Ottawa as the exception does indeed have more games this time around.

So, what does all of this mean for the theory that the play of backup goaltenders will be more important this season since they’ll be forced into extra action?

That premise, at least for the team in Buffalo, is completely backwards.

The Sabres are traveling fewer miles in a season that is shorter, includes no draining west cost trips, and isn’t any more compacted than normal (I refer you again to our ice-cold nugget of trivia).  The reality is that backup goaltending is actually less important than in seasons past.

Now, go out there and impress your friends.  They'll be thankful that you have something to talk about other than lamenting that Terry Pegula would never fire Lindy Ruff.

That's another myth to be busted on another day.

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About The Sabres Observer

Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003.  He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene.  Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.

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Email: dd@kuklaskorner.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]