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Montreal’s favorable schedule could give them a shot to win the Northeast Division

Sep 28, 2011, 3:30 PM EDT

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Carey Price 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.”

Montreal Canadiens schedule analysis

Total mileage: 39,174 (13th lowest in the NHL, most in Northeast Division)

Back-to-back games: 13

Toughest stretches

The Habs don’t really have many especially brutal runs of road games, but there are a few spans that are a little more challenging than others.

Beginning with a home-and-home against the Bruins (in Boston on Oct. 27; at home on Oct. 29), the Habs play five of seven games away from Montreal. November ends in a difficult way, as well, as they play two away games, host the Penguins and then make a tour of California in three straight away games.

The second half of December contains a season-high six-game road trip. Aside from that, it’s pretty smooth sailing. (The only other noteworthy span involves five of six away games in mid-March.)

Easiest stretches

Don’t be shocked if Montreal starts the season with a hot run. After two road games, they’ll have two three-game homestands with an away contest in Pittsburgh sandwiched in between. (In other words, they’ll play six of seven games at home.)

January and February should represent their second wave of strong runs. They start 2012 with another six of seven games at home (with a road game against Boston replacing Pittsburgh as the “meat” between two three-game home runs). January stretches into February with five of six home games. That set is interrupted by two straight road games and then four of five in Montreal before things get tougher.

Overall outlook

In the grand scheme of things, this schedule could make Montreal a dark horse candidate to take the Northeast Division crown. On paper, they aren’t as deep or dangerous as Buffalo or Boston, but they play strong defense and won’t have to worry about over-working Carey Price too often with just 13 back-to-backs.

Topping their division in mileage isn’t so bad since their longest road streak is a reasonable six games and going just under 40,000 miles isn’t too bad relatively speaking (although they’ll fly almost 6,000 more miles than in 2010-11).

Montreal’s schedule is blandly inoffensive, which one must assume is exactly how head coach Jacques Martin likes it. The results might not be bland or offensive for Habs fans, either.

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