With the 2013-14 NHL schedule finally released, it's time for everyone to start breaking down their team's schedule.
Brad looked at how the Dallas Stars got a much better deal in time-zone issues with their moved to the Central Division this season, even if the mileage traveled is still going to be pretty high. But there are plenty of other numbers to examine from the schedules, from the dreaded back-to-backs to busiest and least busy months.
Here are some of the numbers that will jump out at you when analyzing the Stars upcoming schedule.
The number of back-to-backs the Stars have this year is also the number of back-to-backs that feature travel for Dallas. The longest of those trips is a 1,000-mile jaunt from Dallas to Columbus in March, and there is also a 900-mile flight from Dallas to Chicago, a 780-mile trek from Denver to Dallas and a 700-mile trip from Phoenix to San Jose. And that leads us to...
That's how many back-to-backs the Stars will play that involve a time zone change. One of these, a Stars and Avalanche set in December, has equal travel and time zone changes for both teams since it's a home-and-home series. The other two are the aforementioned Phoenix to San Jose and Dallas to Columbus trips. Phoenix, as you might recall, operates on "Arizona Standard Time" and does not honor daylight savings. The effect is that, at least at that time of year, Phoenix will be on mountain time while San Jose will be an hour behind. The Sharks will also be waiting for Dallas with an extra day of rest. On the flight to Columbus, Dallas will lose an hour as it crosses into eastern time zone territory. The upside of that game is that the Jackets also have a game the night before in Toronto and will have to travel well into the evening just like the Stars.
Even though every Stars back-to-back set has travel, two of those have travel that is almost negligible. In a January pair of games, the Stars will make the long trip from New Jersey one night to Madison Square Garden the next. And for their second back-to-back set of the season, the Stars will have to fight traffic in southern California while going from Los Angeles to Anaheim.
Of the 13 back-to-back series, nine come as parts of a stretch of three games in four nights. Four of those are parts of four games in six night stretches.
One of those 4-in-6 sets plays a big part in the Stars busiest time of the season. In early March, the Stars have their only set of 6 games in 10 nights, which is actually a 7 games in 11 nights run. The Stars will play more than every-other night from March 1 to March 11. The upside for Dallas is that five of those seven games are at home.
The Stars close out the season with their busiest month of the year as April boasts seven games in 13 games. Honorable mention goes to March, with 16 games in 31 days, including that run of 7-in-11.
The least busy months, not counting February's prolonged Olympic break, are October and November. The Stars have 12 games in 31 possible days in October and 12 in a possible 30 days in November, five at home and 7 on the road in both months.
The busiest month at the American Airlines Center is January. The Stars will bring in the new year on a five-game homestand, which plays a big part in having 10 home games out of 15 possible contests that month. December and March also feature more home games than road games.
There will only be a few chances to see the Stars in the final month of the season. Dallas will spend most of April on the road, wrapping up its home schedule with two games against the Predators and Blues. That's not only the most busy month of the season; at least by percentage, it's also the most road-heavy month.
All of this accounting, of course, does not include any potential playoff games. Here's hoping those can finally come back into play next spring.