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On The Road Again

Last week the new schedule was released for the coming season and once again the NHL scheduling gurus were unkind to both the Hurricanes and their Caniacs. As section 328 would proclaim, "nuts and bolts, nuts and bolts, we.. got.. screwed!" Remember last year fans complained about the high number of back to back games? It's going to be even worse this year, and most of those second games played in a row are going to be "on the road again."

Some of you might be wondering, what's the big deal? These are professional athletes, they should be able to play 2 nights in a row, shouldn't they? Well of course they can play back to back games, but how well do they play that second game? In most cases, not as well as they do the first. The energy level is usually down. Also since hockey is such a physical game, it's hard on the body to play 2 nights in a row at 100%. More often than not, teams lose the second night of a back to back situation, especially if on the road. (Gamblers take notice! If you bet against the team playing the 2nd night in a row on the road, you will win more often than not.) Last year was no different for the Canes. Let's take a look at the specific results for the Hurricanes on the second game of a back to back. Carolina had a total of 15 of them. 4 of those games were at home, 11 were away. Their overall record was 6 wins and 9 loses, but their home record was 3 and 1 while their away record was 3 and 8. The odds are certainly stacked against you when you are away from home on that second night.

This coming year, Carolina is scheduled to be in 18 back to back confrontations. That is second highest in the entire league! (Buffalo and Chicago each have 20). Of the 18 games played on the back end of the "2-fers", 6 are at home and 12 are away. The odds are not very good for the Canes winning those 12 games, which happen to account for 15% of Carolina's total schedule. One positive note though, at least those games are spread around pretty well throughout the year. Last year, 11 of the 15 back to back killers were scheduled in the first 3 months of the season. Couple that with the Cup hangover and the multiple injuries, it's no wonder the team got off to such a slow start. This year, 9 back to backs are scheduled in the first 3 months and the rest are spread out later. But strangely enough, 2 back to backs are scheduled for the last week of the year. Hopefully, that doesn't come back to bite us!

I feel like a scarecrow today with nothing but bad news, but I'm afraid there is more of it. Out of a total of 22 games that the Hurricanes will play on Saturday nights this season, only 7 of them are at home. That just doesn't seem right. Of course Saturday nights are the most popular night of the week to watch games and they are almost always guaranteed sell outs. What directly hurts fans the most about this though is that the schedule severely limits prime time tailgating. At least some good news is that there is one home game on a Sunday afternoon and 10 games on Friday nights. Tailgaters will just have to leave work early those Fridays! Other good news is that Caniacs still have the popular New Year Eve's game and due to good planning, won't have to fight the State Fair traffic to get to a game once again this year. What a nightmare that used to be! The bottom line is that you have to take the schedule the way it is and play your best every night, regardless, no excuses. But those 12 road games on the second night of the back to backs will be tough ones, there's no denying that!

Here's some interesting news Caniacs! Your favorite Selke Trophy winner was spotted at the Reczone during the Friday morning 8 to 9:30 "public stick and puck" session last week. Joined by Craig Adams, the two worked out lightly during the quiet session. According to the Reczone schedule, they have an open skate every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning during that same time frame. It's great to hear that news, but of course it's no surprise that Brindy is out there skating this early. If you take a close look at the schedule and expand it at the top so it displays the month of August, you'll see that the Hurricanes don't have any official ice time scheduled with the Reczone until Rookie Camp on 8/15 through 8/18. Then on Monday, 8/20, the Canes have the ice reserved for players from 10 to 12 each weekday. That's when things start to get exciting! Of course the Reczone schedule is subject to change, so I will be checking it again when the time gets closer to rookie camp. That camp will definitely be worth checking out. The link can be accessed anytime on the left sidebar under "Canes Related Sites".

I'll leave you with a picture of Brind'Amour taken at the Reczone last year. Training camp will be here before you know it! Happy Monday!

Willie Nelson