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Inside the Numbers: The 2012-13 NHL schedule

by John Kreiser

The 2011-12 season is barely in the record books, but it's already time to look ahead. The NHL unveiled its 2012-13 schedule Thursday. The season begins on Oct. 11 with four games and ends with a bang on April 13, when 28 teams are in action -- and the season concludes on a Saturday rather than a Sunday.

Each team will play 82 games -- 24 against teams in its own division, 40 against non-division teams in its own conference and the other 18 against teams from the other conference.

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

0 -- Games scheduled on Sundays for the Toronto Maple Leafs. In contrast, the Leafs are scheduled to play on 23 of 26 possible Saturdays, including every one after the All-Star break.

1 -- Days during the regular season, with the exception of the Christmas and All-Star breaks, on which there are no games scheduled. The NHL will be dark on Monday, Nov. 12.

2 -- Teams scheduled to play on Jan. 1, 2013. The Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will have the stage to themselves on New Year's Day when they meet in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium, where more than 100,000 fans are expected to attend.

3 -- Teams for which the New York Rangers will serve as the opponent in their home opener, a League high. The Rangers will be the guests when the Los Angeles Kings raise their first Stanley Cup banner to the rafters of the Staples Center on Oct. 12, then will help the San Jose Sharks (Oct. 15) and Carolina Hurricanes (Oct. 26) inaugurate their home seasons.

4 -- Teams that have a League-high 16 sets of back-to-back games on their schedule. Chicago, Columbus, New Jersey and the New York Islanders have more back-to-backs than anyone; San Jose (9) has the fewest.

5 -- Length of the All-Star break for this season's game in Columbus on Jan. 27. There are no games from Jan. 24-28 -- but the second half begins with a roar as 26 of the 30 teams square off in 13 games on Jan. 29.

6 -- One-game road trips for the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers, the fewest of any team in '12-13. In contrast, the Montreal Canadiens and Washington Capitals have a League-high 28.

7 -- Games on Nashville's road swing from Oct. 22 through Nov. 6, the longest trip for the Predators since they entered the NHL in 1998.

8 -- Road games at the start of the season for the New York Rangers, who don't get to play a home game until Nov. 1 due to the renovations at Madison Square Garden. They open with games at Los Angeles and San Jose, then play six more road games in the Eastern time zone. The Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and Edmonton Oilers have the longest trips of the season.

9 -- Longest homestand by any team in 2012-13. The San Jose Sharks play nine consecutive games at home from Feb. 26 through March 14. That homestand comes immediately after a seven-game trip that will see San Jose play six games in the Eastern time zone.

11 -- Back-to-back sets for the Buffalo Sabres, down from a League-high 21 last season. The Sabres have averaged 20 sets of back-to-back games since entering the NHL in 1970; the 11 on the 2012-13 schedule are the fewest in team history.

14 -- Games scheduled for April 13, the final day of the regular season. The Vancouver Canucks and Carolina Hurricanes are the only teams that aren't scheduled that day. It's the second straight season in which the schedule ends on a Saturday; prior to 2012, the last time that had happened was 1928.

43 -- Years since the Chicago Blackhawks have had a seven-game homestand. The Hawks will play seven in a row at United Center for the first time from Feb. 15 through March 1. That matches the longest homestand in franchise history -- they played seven straight home games three times at Chicago Stadium: 1926-27, 1951-52 and 1969-70.

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