Thursday, July 17, 2008

Breaking Down The 08-09 Pittsburgh Penguins Schedule

The NHL released the full 2008-09 regular season schedule today (view it here). This is probably a little more exciting than it should be, but it is always fun to look at the schedule for the upcoming season and try to find the key points. So I'll get right to it!

  • 4th/5th vs. Ottawa - The Pens open up the season with two games against the Senators in Sweden. Hopefully the travel will not be as big of a pain off of the ice as ex-Penguin Jarkko Ruutu is sure to be on it.
  • 11th vs. New Jersey - The Pens return to the States to raise their Eastern Conference championship banner and take on the Devils. On paper this is a game the Pens should win, but crossing "The Pond" may have an impact on that.
  • 14th vs. Philadelphia - The second home game of the year sees the Flyers come to town. They will surely be looking for payback for the Eastern Conference Finals and will undoubtedly be looking to take it to the Pens physically. This is where Eric Godard starts earning his pay.
  • 16th vs. Washington - Continuing a high profile start to the season, the Penguins will welcome the Capitals to town for the next chapter in the Crosby/Malkin/Ovechkin saga.
  • 8th @ Islanders - Satan and Fedotenko return to the Island for the first time since becoming Penguins. Hopefully this will help get the team up emotionally for...
  • 11th @ Detroit - The boys head back to Detroit to take on the Red Wings in a Stanley Cup Finals rematch. I'm guessing Marian Hossa will be mentioned once or twice leading up to this one.
  • 23rd vs. Tampa Bay - As an early Christmas present, the Penguins get half of their team "back" as Ryan Malone, Mark Recchi, Adam Hall, Michel Oulette, and Gary Roberts come calling. All those familiar faces should make for an interesting night at the Igloo.
  • 27th vs. Montreal - BGL returns to Pittsburgh for the first time. Is a showdown with Godard inevitable?
  • The Pens won't play the Rangers eight times in January, it will just feel like it.
  • The schedule is really packed this month to account for the All-Star Game being dropped in.
  • 8th vs. Detroit - The second half of the Finals rematch. I hope Hossa is ready to receive the Jagr treatment from the Igloo faithful.
  • 27th @ Chicago - Two of the NHL's best young teams play for the only time this season. Should be a very entertaining game.
  • 1st @ Dallas - Not terribly noteworthy except for the fact that I will be there. The first official TOFTT road trip is on the calendar!
  • 14th vs. Ottawa - The Senators' only visit to Pittsburgh this season (thanks to the Sweden games). Will the fans be booing or Ruuing?
  • 9th vs. Islanders - The regular season home finale should be a slam dunk as the Islanders will most likely be resembling a junior team by this point in the year. That being said, those kids will be hungry and fighting for roster spots in 2009-10.
  • 11th @ Montreal - The last game of the regular season could either have a big impact on playoff seeding or be totally meaningless. I'm guessing it will be the second option.
Inside the Numbers:
  • The Penguins will play on back-to-back days 13 times this season.
  • The longest homestand will be eight games long, and late in the season to boot.
  • The longest road trip will be five games long, but take them no further from home then Dallas.
All in all the new schedule looks solid enough. It will be nice to not be playing the Devils or Islanders seemingly every other night. You could argue that the Pens got the short end of the "at large" stick by having to play two of the best teams in the Western Conference (Detroit and San Jose) twice each, but it is worth it to make sure Benedict Hossa has to come to Pittsburgh. My biggest concern is that the travel associated with the Sweden games could see the boys get off to another slow start this year. Let's drop the puck already!

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