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A deeper look at the NHL schedule

Last season the topic of epic NHL road travels came up, with perhaps the worst being a home-and-home series between St. Louis and Colorado which had the teams playing one night in Denver, then traveling some 850 miles to play again the next night in St. Louis. Rather than dig through the schedule line by line and look for similar instances this season, I thought I'd bring the wonderful power of spreadsheets to bear on the problem.

And then I thought, the heck with just distance traveled, let's toss some other information in there as well, and open it up so any out there who wants to examine different aspects of the upcoming NHL schedule can do so on their own. So I'd like to present to you my "NHL Super Schedule", published online over at Google Spreadsheets and free for anyone to download and utilize how they see fit.

It may choke your browser to work with it on Google, but I believe you can easily save it off into Excel or Open Office as you prefer.

So what's in there? Let's walk through the columns I've set up:

Team: The team's 3 letter abbreviation (i.e. ANA, BUF)
Game: The game number within that team's 82-game schedule
Date: Day of game
Visitor: Visiting team's name
Home: Home team's name
Time: Time of game, all in Eastern Time
Days Gap: Days since that team's previous game (i.e. back-to-back = 1)
Distance: Distance in miles (as the crow flies) from the previous game. All Game 1's set to 0. All values obtained from a Google Maps mashup posted here.
Division: Division of the team in question
Opponent: Opponent's 3 letter abbreviation
Opp Win%: Opponent's win percentage from the 2006-7 regular season
Opp G/G: Opponent's Goals Per Game from 2006-7
Opp GA/G: Opponent's Goals Allowed Per Game from 2006-7
Opp 5-5 F/A: Opponent's 5-on-5 Goals For/Against Ratio from 2006-7
Opp PP%: Opponent's Power Play % from 2006-7
Opp PK%: Opponent's Penalty Kill % from 2006-7
Opp Shts/G: Opponent's Shots Per Game from 2006-7
Opp SA/G: Opponent's Shots Allowed Per Game from 2006-7

So how can you use this? Checking out who has the furthest to travel for games on consecutive nights is a start. That honor goes to the Vancouver Canucks, who play at Edmonton on November 20, then have to fly 1,090 miles to play the Wild in Minnesota the next evening. You can summarize and sort the teams based on greatest and least travel. Who's going to face the toughest defensive teams on the road this year? Whose goalie is going to see the most rubber flying his way? How do the divisions compare?

I don't know the answer to many of these questions (yet). But I've done the work in putting this spreadsheet together, and now you can look for them yourself, and probably come up with more interesting questions to ask as well. Enjoy, and by all means leave your suggestions for additional columns. I plan on beefing this up considerably over the course of the season.

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