The 2008-09 NHL schedules have been released and even though the puck has yet to drop, things are already looking better for the Hurricanes than they did at this time last year. In 2007-08, the Canes were scheduled for 18 back-to-back games. The always grueling second game of those duets was at home six times and was away twelve times.
Carolina fared very well at home during those contests and finished with a 5-1 record, but it was a different story on the road as they finished with just three wins and nine losses for the second game of those back-to-backs.
Even during the year prior to that in 2006-07, they had 17 back-to-back games with 11 of them on the road. The Canes finished with a similar record of 3-8 on the back end of those games away from home.
Now for the good news. This season they only have 14 back-to-backs scheduled, with a much more favorable six home games and eight away for those dreadful second games.
And the good news just keeps on coming.
Last year I ranted a bit over the fact that the Hurricanes only had seven home games on Saturday nights while they played on the road 15 times that same night. We wonder why attendance was down last year? The other weekend times weren't much better as they played 10 Friday night home games and just one Sunday matinee for a total of 18 home contests played on the weekends.
This season they will have a total 21 weekend home games as they play seven Friday nights, seven Saturdays, (6 nights and one matinee), and an amazing seven Sunday afternoons/evenings. That fact alone will automatically boost the attendance numbers over last year.
Let's take a look at some home games that you probably don't want to miss-
- Oct 10 - Florida (opening night, plus the revenge factor, plus Stillman returning, equals a sell out)
- Oct 13 - Detroit (the Stanley Cup Champs are in town, need I say more?)
- Nov 1 - Edmonton (Erik Cole returns)
- Nov 12 - Washington (Ovechkin and the division champs come to town for the first time)
- Nov 16 - Tampa Bay (you've got to see Barry Melrose, don't ya?)
- Dec 4 - Pittsburgh (Crosby, Malkin, and Staal, oh my!)
- Dec 31 - Atlanta (what else are you going to do on New Year's Eve?)
- Jan 15 - Toronto (come watch the team everyone in the NHL wants to play for)
- Feb 14 - Columbus (take your sweetheart to watch Mike Commodore earn his 3.75 million)
- Feb 22 - Colorado (3PM Sunday start is probably scheduled immediately after a State basketball game. Come join the traffic jam)
- Feb 26 - Buffalo (time for those relocated Yanks to dust off their Sabres jerseys)
- Mar 6 - Calgary (2 words- Dion Phaneuf)
- Mar 9 - NY Rangers (Cullen gets revenge with a hat-trick)
- Mar 21 - Washington (could be a big game)
- Apr 4 - Pittsburgh (brother against brother)
- Apr 9 - Buffalo (last home game of the regular season and Lindy Ruff's comb-over falls out of place)
This year each team will only play their inter-divisional rivals six times instead of eight. That means the Canes will be playing more teams from the Western Conference than they have in the past couple of years. As a matter of fact, they play each team from the WC at least once, and will play Phoenix, St. Louis, and Anaheim twice as "wild cards".
There are only two home games the entire month of October, (because of the State Fair conflict), so the Canes will be hard-pressed to start off with a winning record that first month. On the other hand, the team closes out playing four out of their last five games at home.
It's not going to be easy, but this schedule seems much more favorable than the one last year or the year before.