The NHL announced the 2008-2009 schedule today. For reasons I'm not sure I understand, the season is starting (and ending) a week later than normal, running from October 9th to April 12th. Actually, there are 4 games the weekend before in Prague and Stockholm, but I'm not sure why that makes the rest of the season back up a week. Oh well.
Teams also announced their preseason schedules. The AvalancheDB guys have the Avs preseason (and regular season) listed here. Excluding the still-announced Burgandy and White game, the Avs have 6 preseason games between September 24th and October 5th - 3 each against the Kings, Stars and Blackhawks.
The regular season for Colorado starts on October 9th with the Bruins coming to town and ends on April 12th with the Avs hosting the Blues. Remember last year when the last 3 weeks of the season was all divisonal games? Yeah, neither does the NHL. This year, just 3 of the last 10 Avalanche games are against the NW, and all 3 of those are against the Canucks (who barely count as rivals at this point). Yawn.
And, while I'm the first one to agree that 6 divisional games are plenty, couldn't we do a better job of spreading them out? The last time we see the Flames? Feb 2nd (game 52). On November 18th, 17 games into the season, we'll have played in Calgary for the 3rd and final time. Meanwhile, we won't play our second game against the Wild or Canucks until early December.
The Avs' first 3-game home stand of the year will be over Christmas - December 23rd through 29th when the Avs host the Coyotes, Red Wings and Predators. Then they have a massive 8-game home stand from January 16th through February 5th. The Avs finish out the year with a 3-game homestand, and that's it - just 3 home stands longer than 2 games all season.
The Avalanche's first 3-game road trip of the year is November 12th through the 18th when they do their Western Canada swing (Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary) for the first and only time all year (again, that Calgary game is our last trip there all year). The Avalanche take an East Coast trip from December 15th to the 21st with 4 road games in 7 days (Detroit, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Florida). They have another East Coast trip in late February, with 6 road games from February 20th through March 2nd. According to the Avs' site, it's the longest road trip the Avs have been. Of course, that is the exact time my wife and I were thinking of coming to Denver next year, but I guess that isn't going to work. Those 3 trips are the only 3-game road trips of the season.
One nice thing (for me) with all the added games against the east: the Avs have 10 games starting at 7 or 7:30 eastern time. Believe me, folks, I need my beauty sleep.
More breakdowns...first, by month:
- October, 10 games (5h 5a)
- November, 13 games (6h 7a)
- December, 14 games (6h 8a)
- January, 13 games (10h 3a)
- February, 13 games (4h 9a)
- March, 13 games (6h 7a)
- April, 6 games (4h 2a)
The Avs have 8 back-to-back games, including 3 sets in a span of about 3 weeks:
- November 2nd and 3rd (San Jose, @ Chicago)
- November 28th and 29th (@ Phoenix, Tampa Bay)
- December 4th and 5th (@ Nashville, @ Dallas)
- December 15th and 16th (@ Detroit, @ Philadelphia)
- January 15th and 16th (@ St Louis, Edmonton)
- February 10th and 11th (@ Columbus, @ Minnesota)
- March 14th and 15th (@ Edmonton, @ Vancouver)
- April 11th and 12th (Vancouver, St Louis)
And just because, here's a breakdown by weekday:
- Monday, 8 games
- Tuesday, 14 games
- Wednesday, 9 games
- Thursday, 16 games
- Friday, 8 games
- Saturday, 13 games (including 4 afternoon games)
- Sunday, 14 games (5 afternoon games)
All in all, an okay schedule. If the Avs can get through a brutal February, they have what looks to be a relatively tame schedule for March and April. We've got the Isles, Thrashers, Coyotes, Blues and four games against those dorky Canucks. It's easier than the divisional matchups of last season, but I think we're really going to miss those head-to-head games at the end of the year.