The full 48-game NHL schedule was released last night, and you can check out the Sabres shortened schedule at . After having a night to digest the flood of information that came out yesterday, here's what you need to know about the 2013 Sabres campaign. .com
Overview and Important Dates
The Sabres will play 48 games over 97 days. The important calendar dates are: Jan 20 (season opener), Feb 17 (Hockey Day in America), April 3 (trade deadline), April 26 (final regular season game), April 29 (draft lottery), and April 30 (playoffs start). Hopefully that last one will still be important come April.
Back-To-Backs, Schedule Compression
Buffalo has nine back-to-backs, right around the average number in the league and way down from last season. They'll play three games in four days ten times, and four games in a week seven times, which is more than 50% of their schedule.
Each team also has three games against non-division opponents. Here's who the Sabres will see at home twice: NY Rangers, New Jersey, Philadelphia, NY Islanders, and Winnipeg. As TBN's John Vogl noted, this is about as favorable as it could have worked out for Buffalo with most of the powerhouse Atlantic Division coming to the FNC twice. The opponents that Buffalo will play twice on the road include Pittsburgh, Washington, Carolina, Florida and Tampa Bay.
The Sabres travel schedule is very light as far as mileage goes. With the interconference play, that's to be expected, but they still travel the 6th-fewest miles out of all 30 teams. (The NY Rangers have the easiest travel schedule, which the Minnesota Wild have the worst.) A new wrinkle in the CBA will also make life on the road more comfortable: any player on their second contract or after is entitled to their own hotel room on the road.
Fewer Friday, More Sunday Games
The Sabres have a whopping eleven Sunday games, up from just one last year, and also play eleven times on Tuesday. This year Wednesday gets the short shrift, with just one game, and the team's request of fewer Friday home games has resulted in just five this season. They also have many more afternoon games this season, comprising almost 20% of their schedule.
Easy Start, Finish At Home
Buffalo has a pretty easy start to the schedule. In their first twelve games, the Sabres play seven non-playoff teams from last season: the Leafs twice, the Hurricanes twice, the Canadiens twice, and the Islanders. Throw in the 8th seeded Senators and a comparatively weak Panthers team and that's not a bad way to kick things off. The end of the schedule isn't bad either, and Buffalo finishes with eight of their last twelve at home. The division-heavy schedule in a not-great Northeast division certainly helps make the schedule a bit on the easier side.
Last but not least, here's an SBNation video recapping the major changes in the CBA and story lines for this season in a nice 4-minute package.