Everyone is going to be tired this NHL season because the schedule is so compressed due to the Olympics. But I'm putting the Sabres on notice right here and now: They might like to talk about how injuries impact them but I'm not listening to any excuses that they're tired from their travel schedule.
The reason? According to the chart on this fascinating analysis of the schedule, the Sabres will travel the fewest miles of any NHL team this year. A lot fewer. At 25,911 miles, the Sabres' travel load is less than half that of the Flames (who will log the most miles at more than 55,000). Only the Flyers (29,087) are even under 30,000.
Even with their one brutal Western swing, the Sabres' travel load is down 4,631 miles from last year. That's largely because there are no trips to Edmonton, Calgary, Minnesota, Colorado, Dallas and Chicago as there were in 2008-09. All of those teams are instead coming to Buffalo. "Western" road trips this year include games at Detroit, Columbus and Nashville, a big difference.
One other thing I've pondered in the wake of today's story breaking down the schedule.: The team needs to start well not only because it has many more home games early. It also needs to start well because just three of the first 12 opponents (the Canadiens, Red Wings and Devils) made the playoffs last year. Three are three meetings with the Islanders and one each with the Coyotes, Predators, Thrashers, Panthers, Lightning and Maple Leafs in that stretch.
You may recall from my season-ending breakdown that the Sabres' playoff hopes last year were ultimately quashed by their 5-8-5 record against the Senators, Thrashers, Lightning and Islanders. So they're going to get a quick chance to make up for that this season. They better take advantage.
taggedNHL | Sabres