Avalanche Playing Well Despite Grueling Schedule

Last night's non-game notwithstanding, the Avalanche have done pretty well so far this season.  Their 19-11-6 record is still sixth-best in the NHL.  This is especially impressive considering the grueling nature of their early-season schedule.

So far, the Avs have played 36 games.  That's the most in the league and five more games than five other teams have played so far (New Jersey, Chicago, Buffalo, St. Louis and Atlanta have played only 31).  The Avs have played six more games on the road (21) than they've played at home (15).  While there are thirteen other teams in the NHL that currently have a deficit of home games played to games played on the road, only the Islanders have had it worse than the Avalanche (13 home, 20 road).

Of the thirteen teams who have spent more time on the road than at home, only six are above the post-season cutoff lines in each conference.  In the West, Colorado, Calgary, San Jose and Los Angeles are enduring their lop-sided schedules relatively well.  In the East, only Boston and Atlanta have overcome the odds to hold playoff spots, and Atlanta's home deficit is just one game.

This season's schedule has also been extremely busy for the Avs.  By December 16th last year, the Avs had only played 30 games.  The year before, 32 games.  Part of the compressed schedule can be attributed to the Olympic break, which comes in February.  But even then, this season is significantly harder than past Olympic years.  By December 16th of the 2005-06 season, the Avs had only played 31 games, sixteen of which were at home.

In fact, this is the most front-loaded schedule the Avalanche have ever endured since moving to Colorado in 1995-96.  The closest they have come to 36 games by December 16th is the 1997-98 season (35), which was an Olympic year.  Generally by this date the Avs have only played 30-32 games.

So, the Avs have managed a sixth-best record of 19-11-6 despite: 1) playing more games than any other team to this point in the season, 2) having the second-worst home game deficit, and 3) playing more games between the start of the season to this date than in any year previous, including Olympic years.

Not too shabby for a bunch of rookies and second-year whippersnappers.

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