Thursday, July 12, 2007

Breaking Down the Penguins '07-'08 Schedule

The NHL released it's '07-'08 regular season schedule yesterday. Here is my early analysis of the hand the schedule makers have dealt the Penguins:

  • Oct. 5 @ Carolina - The season opener for the Pens. This could be a tough road game to start the campaign. Hopefully they see the Hurricanes that missed the playoffs last year and not the team that lifted the Cup about 14 months ago.
  • Oct. 6 vs. Anaheim - At first glance the Pens home opener against the defending champs looks like anything but a gimme. Dig a little deeper and you realize that prior to this game the Ducks will already have played 4 road games and crossed the Atlantic twice thanks to their opening pair against the Kings in London (and I'm not talking Ontario here). It will also be their second game in as many nights and third in the last four nights. If there is such thing as a perfect time to play the defending champs, this is it.
  • Oct. 13 @ Toronto - Sid and the boys make their first appearance of the season on Hockey Night in Canada. I'm sure Jordan Staal will be ready.
  • Oct. 23 vs. Rangers - The Penguins first look at the revamped Rangers. It may not be that bad since the Rangers' defensemen this year will probably be earning $50 combined. Sather does know there's a salary cap in the NHL right?
  • Nov. 7 vs. Philadelphia - The new look Flyers swing into town. The Pens definitely won't go 8-0 against Philly this year, but I'm still not sold on the Flyers. As long as Derian Hatcher is playing I can't bring myself to pick the Flyers over the Pens.
  • Nov. 22 @ Ottawa - The Pittsburgh's first rematch with their playoff ousters and the second of two games in as many nights. Hopefully coach Therrien shows the team how lousy they looked against the Sens this April to fire them up a little.
  • Dec. 3 vs. Phoenix - Playing the Coyotes is no big deal considering how bad they are, but this will be Penguins fans' only chance to boo Wayne Gretzky in person for the next three years.
  • Jan. 1 @ Buffalo - The Pens open the year with the second half of a home-and-home against a dismantled Sabres squad. The reason this game is relevant... it could be played outdoors. Oh to be within driving distance of Buffalo...
  • Feb. 24 vs. San Jose - The second of two afternoon starts on consecutive days. After taking on Ottawa on the road the day before, hopefully the boys have enough left in the tank to handle the Sharks. The smart money says Dany Sabourin gets the nod here.
  • Mar. 31 @ Rangers - The second leg of a Sunday/Monday home-and-home with the Rangers. These two games could end up deciding the division champ.
  • Apr. 6 @ Philadelphia - The second game of a season ending home-and-home with the Flyers. These two games could also end up deciding the division champ.
Notes and observations:
  • The Penguins play games on back-to-back days 15 times this season. That seems like an awfully high number to me for a non-Olympic season. I have a feeling a lot of that has to do with the NHL trying to get Sid on national TV as much as possible. Which I can't blame them for. Hopefully Sabourin is able to step in and provide some quality starts in there along the way.
  • The first half of November is going to be HUGE for the Pens. They open the month in Colorado, and then play nine games against division opponents in the next nineteen days. The Penguins won't win the Atlantic in November, but they sure could lose it.
  • The Pens longest road trip of the season is only four games, which they will do twice. Their longest homestand of the season will also be four games, which they will do three times. It would be nice to see the boys get s solid six or seven game string at home somewhere along the way, but Eastern Conference travel isn't too bad so it's not that big of a deal.
  • The western Canada trip will be Sid's first appearance in those parts. Knowing him I'd look for 10-12 points out of those games.
So there's my take on the new schedule. I'm sure once the season starts there will be games that become more significant than they look now. In the meantime, it's just nice to know the Good Ship Penguins is sailing in the right direction and that it's okay to talk about winning the division again without being laughed at. October 5th can't get here soon enough.

1 comment:

snoopyjode said...

oh, chris. my condolences that you aren't in a geographical position to get to go to that (possible) pens vs. sabres ice bowl... when i get back, i'll let you know how it was!!! ;)