BUFFALO, NY - APRIL 17: Players of the Buffalo Sabres and the Boston Bruins stand on the ice during the National Anthem prior to playing in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HSBC Arena on April 17, 2010 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Yesterday BBFan did a nice job of going game by game to give his prediction of how things will shake out this year. For an alternate take on the schedule, I'll take a look at the important dates and the travel considerations in totality rather than month-by-month to give you an idea of what the team will be going through this year. No predictions (that's up to you all) just the facts.
What you won't find here is the entire schedule, reprinted, because that would be a waste of e-trees. If you want to follow along with us, you can check the schedule out at Sabres.com, the Buffalo News, or NHL.com. And one last thing before we start, huge props go out to Dirk Hoag from On The Forecheck, whose wealth of information made much of this analysis possible.
So for those of you who "haven't had time" (read: are too lazy) to pore over the schedule, here's how it breaks down into the basics, bad news and good news.
The Basic Info:
Season Opener: Friday, Oct. 8th, 7:30pm, at Ottawa
Home Opener: Saturday, Oct. 9th, 7pm, vs. NY Rangers
Hall of Fame Game: Saturday, Nov. 6, 7pm, at Toronto
All-Star Break: Jan. 27 - Feb. 1
Hockey Day in America: Sunday, Feb. 20, 3pm, vs. Washington
Last Game: Saturday, April 9, 7:30pm, at Columbus
Playoffs (Hopefully) Begin: April 13, 2011, vs. anyone
Longest Homestand: 6 games: Feb. 16 - Feb. 26
Longest Road Trip: 7 games: Mar. 1 - Mar. 12
Check after the break for good news, bad news.
The Bad News:
Well, it's always better to hear the bad news first right? Okay take a deep breath and think happy thoughts. You may have noticed the home opener is on the wrong end of a back-to-back, right? Well get used to it, because the Sabres lead the league in that department with a whopping 22 back-to-back series. That's not a typo - over half the season will be played on back-to-back days. The season will open and close on a back-to-back, and 15 times will the team play three games in four days. Still don't care who the backup goalie is?
The Sabres will also need to start hot because the beginning of the season is pretty brutal. Try 6 games in 9 days against tough opponents such as Ottawa, Montreal, the Devils, and the Cup Champion Blackhawks - twice!
The road is generally friendly to the Sabres with one brutal exception: from Dec. 27 - Jan. 8, Buffalo plays two games out west, travels back home for one game on New Year's Day, and then goes back out west for three more games. All that travelling with the Christmas and New Year's holidays jammed in there too. Sorry to all the high school and college kids on winter break...
The Good News:
It's not all bad - there are a lot of good things about this schedule too. For starters, the team will once again be travelling very few total miles, clocking in at 30,124 - good for fourth-lowest in the league. And the positive side of having all those back-to-backs is that the team will get three or more days of rest between games 24 times this season.
The team will never be away from the HSBC Arena for very long either. Aside from one seven game road trip at the beginning of March during which they only travel out of the time zone once (to Minnesota) their second-longest road trip is just four games.
The Sabres will be involved in some cool events this year - the Hall of Fame game in Toronto and Hockey Day in America. The Hall of Fame game is traditionally played right before the induction of the new class of players, though whether this class deserves to be there is another argument. Hockey Day in America will feature four all-American match-ups (duh) though we still need to work on ripping off Canada's ideas more effectively - it's on a Sunday, really?
Mercifully, the end of the schedule is easier than the beginning - in the last two weeks of the season, the Sabres play six of their final nine games against the annually high-drafting Panthers, Leafs, Rangers, Hurricanes, Lightning, and Blue Jackets.
So there it is - now that you know enough to mildly impress or annoy your friends, what do you think of this season's schedule?