It might have taken several hours longer than most would have like, but the NHL finally released its abbreviated 2013 schedule Saturday evening.
There weren't a whole lot of surprises as far as the specifics went - each team is playing 18 games against its divisional rivals and 30 games against the other conference teams, and the Dallas Stars will indeed open the season with a Jan. 19 game against the Phoenix Coyotes and close it against the Detroit Red Wings.
There's a lot of raw data to tear into, and we'll have some more on the travel burden later once we have a chance to go through mileage data. But for now, here's some of the more interesting quirks of the Stars upcoming schedule.
Longest roadtrip: Three games, which happens four times. The Stars will swing through Phoenix, Colorado and Edmonton from Feb. 4-8, then take a quick stop at home against the Ducks before heading to Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver from Feb. 12-15. Dallas will take only two-game trips throughout the entire month of March before returning to the road in April, with two games in Anaheim and another in San Jose from April 3-7, then trips to St. Louis, Los Angeles and San Jose from April 19-23.
Longest roadtrip, honorable mention: The six road matches in seven games swing of Feb. 4-15, which includes two trips to Edmonton. Only a home game against the Ducks breaks up that stretch, and the Stars will have to come from Edmonton to see Anaheim before heading back up to the same city. Not sure who came up with that at the league office, but the Oilers will be playing a back-to-back at Detroit and Columbus in the meantime to help even the scales a bit.
Longest homestand: Five games. The Stars will settle into the American Airlines Center for a full week and a half to close out March and start April, as they play host to Colorado, Minnesota (twice), Los Angeles and Anaheim.
Busiest month: January, with seven games in 13 possible days. April is a close second with 14 games in 27 possible days.
Least busy month: March, with 13 games in 31 possible days, including two stretches of three days off, the majority of the season's longest homestand and another four-game homestand as well.
Divisional matchups: The Stars will play the Ducks and Kings five times, with the Ducks coming to Dallas three times while the Stars have to play at the Staples Center three times. The Sharks and Coyotes will have four-game series with the Stars, and three of those games will be out of the way by Feb. 2. The Sharks won't see much of Dallas until April, when the teams have three games.
3 - Longest gap between games, which coincidentally occurs three times: February 18-20, March 4-6 and March 26-28. The final gap comes between a pair of home games against the Minnesota Wild, who have a home game on March 27 against Phoenix. I'm sure the Wild are thrilled with that arrangement.
3 - Games that start at or before 3 p.m. central time. The Stars will host a pair of afternoon contests, the first Feb. 17 against Calgary and later March 3 against St. Louis. Their one road afternoon start is a 3 p.m. game in San Jose on April 7.
8 - Number of games against the Pacific Division out of the 14 in April, all of them against the California-based teams. The Stars have one three-game road trip to the West Coast and make a stop in San Jose on another three-game swing, and they will also play host to each of the California teams at least once during the month as well.
9 - Sets of back-to-back games, five of which occur in the months of January and February. All of those games are parts of 3-in-4 stretches, and three of them occur in stretches of four games in six nights. All in all, a full 18.75 percent of this season's Stars schedule will be played on the back end of a back-to-back.
9 - Games currently scheduled for a national network. Three games are on the docket for NBC Sports Network, and another six are scheduled for the NHL Network. The NHLN games are evenly split home and road while all three of the NBCSN games are road contests.
12 - Games that start at or after 8 p.m. central time. Two start at 8 p.m., five at 8:30 p.m., three at 9 p.m. and two at 9:30 p.m. Blame the Kings for those final two, both Thursday night games in March.
14 - Games of the final half of the season at home. The Stars open with 14 road contests in their first 24 to even it out, including 10 of their first 15. Or if you want to look at it this way, 19 if of their final 33 games are at the American Airlines Center.
Finally, from the Stars official release about their schedule, here's a couple other breakdowns.
Overall: 9 sets (18 games total)
Back-to-back games at home: 6 Back-to-back games on the road: 12
Road game followed by home game next day: 1
Home game followed by road game next day: 3
Home game followed by home game next day: 1
Road game followed by road game next day: 4
Opponents' Visits to Dallas (24)
Anaheim-3, Calgary-2, Chicago-2, Colorado-1, Columbus-1, Detroit-1, Edmonton-1, Los Angeles-2, Minnesota-2, Nashville-1, Phoenix-2, St. Louis-2, San Jose-2, Vancouver-2.
Stars' Visits to Road Cities (24)
Anaheim-2, Calgary-1, Chicago-1, Colorado-2, Columbus-2, Detroit-2, Edmonton-2, Los Angeles-3, Minnesota-1, Nashville-2, Phoenix-2, St. Louis-1, San Jose-2, Vancouver-1.