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Bruins must stock up on points early in 2011-12 because of tough final three months

Sep 28, 2011, 9:00 AM EDT

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vtar101 AP

With the 2011-12 season rapidly approaching, the gang at PHT decided to take a look at all 30 NHL teams’ schedules. Each team’s highs and lows will be studied in detail to give you an idea of what the future might hold for each squad.

Note: Mileage figures via On the Forecheck’s “Super Schedule.”

Boston Bruins schedule analysis

Total mileage: 33,770 (fifth lowest in NHL, second least in Northeast Division)

Back-to-back games: 13

Toughest stretches

The Bruins start with a cushy schedule, but they’ll pay for it during the last three months of the 2011-12 campaign. Each month has a rough stretch that will test the defending champions.

The first tough run begins in Carolina on Jan. 14, followed by back-to-back road games against Florida and Tampa Bay. The final game of that four-game trip takes place in New Jersey, which is followed by back-to-back afternoon games (home vs. the Rangers on Jan. 22, followed by an NBC game in Philly). That treacherous run concludes two days later in Washington. (Overall, that’s six of seven games on the road with two back-to-back contests.)

The middle of February is rough as well. They’ll play six straight road games in that span, concluding with a game in Buffalo on Feb. 24 followed by a contest versus Ottawa on Feb. 25.

March is a bit more forgiving, but not a cakewalk either, with eight of 12 road games during one span.

Easiest periods

Seven of the Bruins’ first 10 games are at home, which should give the team a nice chance to bulk up for that tough end of the season. Going without back-to-back games in October won’t hurt their cause, either.

The second half of November isn’t fun, but the first half is borderline cuddly. Six of their first seven games are in Boston, including five in a row.

After a scattered December, the Bruins only have a few promising chances to stockpile relatively easy points. January includes a four-game homestand and starts their last above average stretch (five of seven games at home from Jan. 31 to Feb. 14).

Overall outlook

The Bruins have a light travel schedule, a manageable 13 back-to-back games and some excellent opportunities to earn an early buffer.

For that reason, the team should provide a great test for the old “Stanley Cup hangover” cliche. If they indeed stumble out of the gate, things could get sketchy because the end of their season provides some harrowing stretches. Boston finished last season remarkably healthy, but if they might limp into the playoffs in 2011-12.

(Assuming they follow reasonable logic and make the postseason to begin with, of course.)

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