NHL Super Schedule breaks down 2011-12 travel miles by team

With the Atlanta Thrashers relocating to Winnipeg while remaining in the Southeast Division, the potential loomed for an unbelievably difficult travel schedule during the upcoming 2011-12 NHL Regular Season. In fact, when I ran a simulation simply moving the team but replicating the previous year's schedule, it looks like the Winnipeg team would travel more than any squad in recent years.

Let's give the NHL's schedule makers a standing ovation, then, for doing a fine job accommodating that special situation, and doing a pretty fair job of reducing the burden on some other teams, as well. When I ran this year's numbers, I was shocked at some of the things I saw.

Follow after the jump, then, and check out your 2011-12 NHL Super Schedule...

Make sure to follow OTF on Facebook, or find me on Twitter at @Forechecker!

This is the 4th year in a row I've published a full-featured spreadsheet depicting the NHL regular season schedule, bringing in additional pieces of data like miles traveled between games, and the main statistics for each opponent along the way. 

It's freely available as a Google Spreadsheet which you can download and play with to your heart's content. Feel free to rank teams on the average power play strength of their opponent's, or 5-on-5 GF/GA, or Points Percentage, whatever you like.

What attracts most people's attention, however, are the miles traveled by teams, and the number of times they have to play on back-to-back nights. I've summarized those results in the table below, with a comparison to last year:

 Team 2011-12 Miles

2011-12

B to B

2011-12

1 Gm Trips

2010-11 Miles

2010-11

B to B

2010-11

1 Gm Trips

 Anaheim Ducks 50,296 13 10 47,838 15 12
 Boston Bruins 33,770 13 11 35,673 14 17
 Buffalo Sabres 35,911 21 23 30,347 22 15
 Carolina Hurricanes 38,114 16 24 40,874 21 33
 Columbus Blue Jackets 42,831 16 17 44,600 18 27
 Calgary Flames 49,104 10 5 48,004 13 7
 Chicago Blackhawks 39,288 17 20 40,498 18 21
 Colorado Avalanche 48,945 10 18 44,190 14 11
 Dallas Stars 49,622 14 17 46,244 12 9
 Detroit Red Wings 42,865 14 20 39,793 14 17
 Edmonton Oilers 50,006 12 10 50,309 11 4
 Florida Panthers 52,751 14 8 43,144 15 8
 Los Angeles Kings 55,591 15 13 40,430 13 10
 Minnesota Wild 42,860 11 12 50,805 19 17
 Montreal Canadiens 39,174 13 19 33,224 16 17
 New Jersey Devils 28,597 15 24 27,152 20 27
 Nashville Predators 39,534 11 10 42,379 13 27
 New York Islanders 32,410 13 20 28,210 20 24
 New York Rangers 36,385 14 11 29,355 18 18
 Ottawa Senators 33,915 17 20 32,157 16 23
 Philadelphia Flyers 34,193 13 20 29,973 16 29
 Phoenix Coyotes 49,192 13 15 53,843 16 14
 Pittsburgh Penguins 33,439 15 17 28,948 17 18
 San Jose Sharks 43,994 14 5 56,254 14 6
 St. Louis Blues 38,781 17 20 41,473 17 23
 Tampa Bay Lightning 43,717 10 12 40,522 17 10
 Toronto Maple Leafs 32,239 17 21 33,470 14 27
 Vancouver Canucks 46,826 11 2 51,213 11 5
 Winnipeg/Atlanta 44,627 14 8 44,079 15 16
 Washington Capitals 37,969 13 22 32,401 15 22

Click on any of the column headers to sort on that value.

So here's how this works: for each team, I walk through their schedule from Game 1 to Game 82, adding up the miles traveled from one game to the next. The European openers are accounted for, and if a team has road games immediately before and after the All Star break, I add in a trip home between those games. One adjustment I've made from previous years is that if a team starts on the road, I build in the miles from their home rink for Game 1 (and I've updated the 2010-11 numbers in the table above to match that scheme).

Winnipeg's Fortune

I was stunned to see how reasonable Winnipeg's travel mileage comes out, given their remote location relative to their Southeast Division rivals. The key here is the reduced number of one-game trips that they'll make this year (down to 8 from 16 in 2010-11). When they head east, they'll tend to knock out several games at once, which makes a tremendous difference in their overall mileage.

The Vancouver Canucks, too, benefit from such a trend, only having 2 one-game trips this season, which helps reduce their travel distance by almost 10%.

The Highs & Lows

This year's Frequent Flyer Champions will be the Los Angeles Kings, supplanting the San Jose Sharks, who led 2 out of the 3 previous seasons. Buffalo will once again play the most back-to-back sets (21) this year, while Tampa Bay, Colorado and Calgary will face only 10.

I'll have more followup posts in the days ahead looking at specific aspects of the schedule, but for now, take the Google Spreadsheet for a spin!

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