By Mike Harrington
OTTAWA -- The Sabres are in Scotiabank Place tonight and it's another quick jaunt for the team in a season full of them as they're playing an all-Eastern Conference schedule.
Just once in 48 games (April 9 at Winnipeg) will the Sabres play a game outside the Eastern time zone. Pretty incredible for a whole season.
On the Forecheck, an SB Nation blog that covers the Nashville Predators, has become the go-to place in recent season for what it calls the "Super Schedule" -- a calculation of the miles each NHL team travels during the season. Not surprisingly, the Sabres rate low on the list.
As you can see at the link above, the Sabres' total mileage of 15,749 is the sixth-lowest in the NHL and I really discount the top three (New Jersey, New York Rangers, New York Islanders) because they play a bunch of road games against each other where they simply hop a bus, often on gameday.
That would make my leaders as Philadelphia (14,648), Ottawa (15,173) and Buffalo. The most travel in the East is obviously Winnipeg (27,431) but to show you how tough things are in the West, there are seven teams that have more time in the air than the Jets.
The most miles spent this year will be the 31,345 by the Minnesota Wild, the only team over 30,000.
Under the previously announced 82-game schedule, the Sabres were going to travel 33,201 miles (ninth in the league). The most travel was going to be spent by Dallas (50,746). the Sabres were at 35,911 last year, largely because they opened the season in Europe.
The site has been doing the travel calculations since 2008 and you can see all of its work in this area archived at this link
The Sabres' issue has been the tight schedule. Tonight is 14 games in 24 days before the team finally gets a two-day break before hosting Boston Friday. And there's no more back-to-backs until March. The Sabres took Monday off the ice and are expected to do likewise on Wednesday.
"I told the team we've gone through a very demanding stretch," coach Lindy Ruff said here today. "Advantageously, we don't play a back-to-back until next month. It's play, practice, play practice, take a day. It's starting to lean in our favor but we knew the schedule was tough."