Judging by many of the comments on our Twitter feed, it’s pretty obvious that Buffalo Sabres fans are already counting down to the start of the regular season. So for those of you keeping score at home, this is a quick reminder that there are just 67 days until the Sabres open the season in Helsinki, Finland against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday, October 7.
But there’s more to the schedule than just opening night, so let’s take a quick look inside the 82 games that comprise the 2011-12 Sabres regular season:
*After playing a league-high 22 sets of back-to-back games last season, the Sabres once again lead the NHL with 21 back-to-backs this year. This is four more than second-place Chicago, and 11 more than the league-low 10 to be played by Calgary, Colorado and Tampa Bay.
*Of their 21 back-to-back sets: nine are home/away; seven are away/home; and the remaining four are home/home (2) and away/away (2).
*Within their 21 back-to-backs, the Sabres will play a team coming off a rest day 14 times.
*Conversely, the Sabres will come off a rest day against a team playing its second game in a row on 10 different occasions.
*41 of Buffalo’s 82 games will be played on Fridays (17) and Saturdays (24). They will also play 14 Tuesday games and 12 on Wednesdays. Sunday is the team’s lightest day of the week with just a lone home affair against Pittsburgh on Feb. 19. That is also just one of two afternoon games, with the other being a 3 p.m. start to close the season in Boston on Apr. 7.
*Buffalo will play three games in four days a total of 16 times this season – tied for 12th most in the league. The San Jose Sharks will play a league-high 20.
*Not including the team’s two season opening games in Europe, 32 of Buffalo’s 40 road games will be played in the Eastern Time zone. They play five games in Central Time and three in the Pacific Time zone. From Oct. 14-Dec. 31, Buffalo’s only trip outside the Eastern Time zone will be to Nashville on Dec. 2.
*March is the team’s busiest month of the year with 16 games in 31 days. They play eight games in the first 14 days of the month, and don’t get two consecutive days off until March 15-16. Their 10 road games in March are also the highest during any month of the season. In terms of home games, the Sabres will play a season-high nine at HSBC Arena in both November and February.
*Buffalo will play three true home and home sets this season. While none of the three are on consecutive days, neither team plays another opponent during the off days. The Sabres play at Tampa on Oct. 22, and back in Buffalo on Oct. 25. The remaining two are both against the Maple Leafs: Jan. 10 @ Tor, Jan. 13 @ Buf; and Mar. 31 @ Tor, Apr. 3 @ Buf.
*The team’s longest road trip is seven games from January 14-31. After playing Toronto at home on Friday the 13th, Buffalo will hit the road immediately for a game the next night in Long Island. That will be followed by Detroit (Jan 16), back-to-back tilts at Chicago (Jan 18) and Winnipeg (Jan 19), followed by St. Louis (Jan. 21). The trip concludes with games in New Jersey (Jan. 24) and Montreal (Jan. 31) sandwiching the league’s All-Star Weekend festivities in Ottawa on Jan 28-29.
*Buffalo’s longest homestand is five games from December 5-16. They will also have a pair of four-game runs at HSBC Arena during February.