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Ducks will have to overcome nightmare schedule to compete

Sep 30, 2011, 2:00 PM EDT

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Lubomir Visnovsky, Jonas Hiller 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.”

Anaheim Ducks schedule analysis

Total mileage: 50,296 (third most miles in NHL and second most in the Pacific Division)

Back-to-back games: 13

Toughest stretches

Where to start? The Ducks have a 7-game road trip that runs between October 25 and November 5—a trip that eventually ends up in the Northeast. A couple of weeks later, they have an eight game stretch where they’ll play seven games on the road. While both sound difficult on their own, the Ducks have an even tougher stretch to deal with in February. The eight game road trip that runs from February 11 to February 23 has the potential to destroy a season. The start in Detroit, travel to the Northeast for a couple of games, before flying south to play a few Southeast Division teams.

Oh yeah, they also start the season in Europe for a pair of games against Eastern Conference opponents.

As if all of that wasn’t bad enough, they finish with a three games on the road. If the Ducks are battling for a playoff spot, three games on the road to finish the season could be a huge deal.

Easiest periods

Believe it or not, there are a couple of easier stretches for Anaheim. Starting on November 17, they’ll play eight out of nine games at the Honda Center. The competition may be tough, but the Ducks have proven over the last few years to be a much better team at home than they’ve been on the road.

They also get a six-game homestand starting on December 29 and running through January 10. Even though they’ll have to deal with the Sharks and Canucks during the homestand, they’ll also get to see the Avalanche, Islanders, Blue Jackets, and Stars. There’s no question they’ll need to have a strong homestand and collect the points while they can. For good measure, they have a seven game stretch in March when they never have to leave California.

Overall outlook

The Ducks are one of only three teams who will be forced to travel over 50,000 miles this season. Their travel is the third toughest in the NHL and only trails I-5 rival Los Angeles for toughest travel in the Pacific Division.

By the time they get back from their 8-game road trip in February, they should have a idea if the playoffs are a realistic possibility. Over the course of the season, they’ll have long road trips scattered around long homestands. They’ll need to maintain their focus—whether it’s during extended homestands or long road trips if they want to collect enough points to make the playoffs.

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