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Meltzer's Musings: A look inside the schedule

July 28, 2011, 11:16 AM ET [ Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT
At first glance, the Flyers appear to have a somewhat tougher-than-average schedule in 2011-12. Last year, the single most grueling portion of the schedule was a stretch of nine of 10 games on the road stretching from shortly after Christmas until late January. The club also had two unusually long breaks during the season.

Here's a look inside the Flyers' schedule for next season:

* Two of the first three games (the season opener and home opener) will put the Flyers against last season's Stanley Cup finalists. The Flyers open the season in Boston on Oct. 6 and play their home opener against the Canucks on Oct. 12.

* The Flyers don't have to wait to long for their first game against Mike Richards, Simon Gagne and the rest of the Los Angeles Kings. LA pays a visit to the Wells Fargo Center on Oct 15.

* After that difficult opening stretch of four games, the Flyers actually have (on paper) one of their more favorable schedules over the balance of October. In total, seven of the 11 games that month are at home and only five are against clubs that made the playoffs last season.

* The Flyers play on back-to-back dates a dozen times next season. While that is about an average number, what makes it particularly challenging in 2011-12 is the fact that that 10 of the back-to-backs are part of three-game-in-four-night stretches. In addition, a handful of the final games of these grueling stretches are against exceptionally difficult opponents, including a home game against the Lightning and road game against the Red Wings on Sun Feb 12 (there's an afternoon home game against the Rangers the previous day) and several divisional games.

* There are only two home-and-home sets this season. The Flyers host the Senators on the afternoon of Sat. Jan 7 and then the clubs will face off in Ottawa the following night. The other home-and-home is against the Devils on March 11 (road) and 13 (home).

* The Flyers' busiest road schedule of the season is in December. That month, Philly plays nine of 13 games on the road, including seven of eight on the road between Dec. 13-19 (the lone home game is a matinee against the Bruins on Sat. Dec 17).

* The Flyers' road-heavy schedule in December follows another road-heavy month in November (7 of 12 games away). The bright side to this scenario is that all the time on the road could help a team with a lot of roster turnover to gel. The Flyers were a better road team than home team last season, but that won't necessarily carry over (especially with so much personnel change).

* Starting with their home opener, the Flyers play a stretch of 7 of 9 games at home in October. Down the stretch, they have 6 of 7 at home in late March (the only road game between March 18 and the end of the month is a game in Toronto on Thurs. March 29).

* The Flyers' longest schedule break of the season is four days between games, which will occur five times during the season. The longest overall idle stretch sees only one game in eight days. After playing Jeff Carter and the Columbus Blue Jackets in Philly on Sat. Nov 5, the Flyers do not play against until they face Tampa Bay on the road on Wed. Nov 9. The team will then likely remain in Florida until they play against the Panthers in a 5 PM game on Sun. Nov. 13.

* The Flyers see a lot of the Carolina Hurricanes early in the season. Three of the four games of the season series will take place between Oct. 29 and Nov. 21. The season series will conclude on Jan. 12.

* The Flyers will see more of the Penguins than any other team down the stretch. The cross-state archrivals will play three times between March 18 and April 7 (final game of the regular season).
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