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Inside the 2008-09 Schedule

by John Kreiser
The 2008-09 NHL schedule was announced Thursday. The season begins on Oct. 4 with two games in Europe and ends 27 weeks later, on April 12. Each team will play 82 games, 24 against teams in its own division, 40 against non-division teams in its own conference and the rest against the other conference.

Here’s a look at some of the more interesting numbers for the upcoming season:

0 — Games scheduled on Oct. 26, the only non-holiday or All Star-related date in the season on which there are no games scheduled.

1 — Games on Feb. 23 (San Jose at Dallas) and March 2 (Colorado at New York Islanders) — the only dates on which only one game is scheduled.

2 — Games on Nov. 28, when the United States celebrates Thanksgiving — and neither involves a U.S.-based team. The Nashville Predators, who had hosted (and won) a Thanksgiving night game in each of the last three years, don't have one this season.

3 — Longest homestand for the New York Rangers, who have four of them. The Rangers are the only team that doesn't have at least one four-game stretch of home games.

4 — Road games at the start of the season for the Boston Bruins, who always have a trip right around the start of the season due to arena commitments (they opened with five in a row on the road in each of the last two season). It's the longest season-opening trip for any team. The Bruins are the visiting team for three home openers (Colorado, Minnesota and Montreal) before they finally play their own home opener at the TD Banknorth Garden on Oct. 20.

5 — Consecutive games at home to start the North American portions of their schedule for the Ottawa Senators and Tampa Bay Lightning, two of their four teams that open the NHL season with a pair of games in Europe.

6 — Home games in their last seven for the Detroit Red Wings and Edmonton Oilers, the best losing stretches for any team. The St. Louis Blues have the opposite: They play six of their last seven games away from home.

7 — Road trip for the Edmonton Oilers from Oct. 30 through Nov. 10. It's part of a grueling season-opening stretch in which the Oilers play 12 of their first 15 games and 14 of their first 19 away from Rexall Place
8 — Longest homestands of the season, for the Colorado Avalanche, Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins. The Senators are also one of the two teams, along with the Chicago Blackhawks, to have an eight-game road trip.

10 — Home games for the Montreal Canadiens in an 11-game stretch from Nov. 29 through Dec. 21. The Canadiens play seven in a row at the Bell Centre, make a quick visit to Carolina on Dec. 16, then go back home for three more games. The Canadiens also have nine home games in a 10-game stretch from March 10-31.

12 — Afternoon home games for the Boston Bruins, by far the most in the NHL. The first of those games is a noon meeting with the New York Islanders on the day after Thanksgiving; nine of the remaining 11 are on Saturdays. Boston also has at least three afternoon contests on the road.

13 — Games on Dec. 23, March 12 and April 7, the most on any weekday. The Dec. 23 games come before the NHL takes two days off for the Christmas break.

15 — Games on Oct. 25, only the second time the NHL has scheduled all 30 teams to play on the same day. The other was Oct. 5, 2005, when every team played on the first night of the season as the League returned after the work stoppage.

18 — Inter-conference games for each team, up from 10 in the previous three seasons. Each team plays every team in the other conference (15 games), plus, there are three wild-card games.

20 — Road games for the Vancouver Canucks in a trio of long trips. The Canucks play six straight road games after opening at home against Calgary on Oct. 9, play seven in a row away from General Motors Place from Nov. 29 through Dec. 14, and end March with six in a row on the road.

22 — Games at Staples Center for the Los Angeles Kings in their first 31 contests. The Kings open at San Jose before playing their next four games at home, have a seven-game homestand from Oct. 27 through Nov. 11, play 10 of their first 13 games at home and don't have a trip of more than two games until the week before Christmas. The payback: Beginning on March 13, 12 of their last 16 games are on the road.

40 — Actual home games for the Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning, each of which will play their 41st "home" game during a season-opening two-game trip to Europe. Pittsburgh and Ottawa will face off twice in Stockholm, Sweden, while the Rangers and Lightning will play a pair of games in Prague.

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