The NHL released all schedules for the upcoming season yesterday and again, the 2009-10 Canucks Schedule can be found here.
Some changes to this year’s schedule might benefit the Canucks who are one of the most traveled teams in the NHL.
This year the NHL has reduce the number of inter-division games from 8 to 6. This is to allow more inter-conference games to be scheduled, and gives them two less ’4-point games’ against each team in the NW – so 8 games in total over the course of the season. The 8 less ’4 point games’ mean the Canucks destiny down the stretch in a tight divisional race is not in their control as much as it might have been last year. The extra games against Eastern teams should be beneficial to the Canucks who in past years have maintained a very good record against the teams from the East that they see so rarely.
The NHL again has structured the season such that the end of the regular season has enough divisional matchups to make it interesting. It’s certainly a lot less this year, and I suspect that has something to do with the large road trip for the Olympic break. The Olympic break road trip doesn’t worry me so much because the Canucks take a long swing out east and if the recent seasons are any indication, the Canucks have fared very well against Eastern opponents. The toughest games on that swing will likely be against Detroit and Minnesota, but who know’s who this year’s surprise rise from the cellar dweller will be. The 14 away games the Canucks play because of the Olympics are also not as bad as they may look. The Canucks play games on both sides of the Olympic break.
After Gillis’ complaints about the schedule, and the Canucks research which bore evidence to suggest that the unreasonable road trips were taking a tangible toll on the players, it looks like the NHL has listened. This season the Canucks total mileage comes to 48221 miles as opposed to the 51,206 they had to fly last year. The Canucks remain the 5th most traveled team in the NHL, however the general trend amongst this year’s schedule seems to be a reduced number of miles traveled as 13 of the 30 teams travel less than they did last season, and it’s mostly Eastern teams which are compensating for the change in travel with an increase in air miles. The biggest loser this year? The San Jose Sharks. They’re going to travel 9600 km less than last year. The Senators have the largest increase in travel by approximately 5900 km which still puts them at 10,000 less km travelled than the Canucks Thanks to Dirk Hoag for the stats.