A look at the Minnesota Wild's 2016-2017 schedule...
I've been looking at the 2016-17 schedule for the Minnesota Wild. The NHL scheduling team did the Wild no favors; indeed, it seems as if the Wild are being punished for what happened last season. While there are some significant highlights, the lowlights are also glaringly apparent. So, having said all of that, here we go...
1. Only one trip west of Winnipeg after Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 5). This will invariably prove vital for the team's well-being, as the Wild never do all that well on West Coast road swings. Speaking of the West Coast...
2. Only one trip to California, the weekend after New Year's. For those of you who are sick of the holidays, along comes your favorite hockey team, giving you something else to do after the New Year's resolutions are broken on Jan. 2.
3. All your favorite holiday games are covered at home, with games on Thanksgiving Eve (Winnipeg), 'Black Friday' (Pittsburgh), New Year's Eve (Columbus), and even Valentine's Day (Anaheim), all at Xcel Energy Center.
4. A massive, eight-game homestand (including the CBA-mandated five-day 'break'), as the Wild occupy the 'X' from Feb. 8-27. Two games vs. Chicago, and single games vs. Tampa Bay, Detroit, Anaheim, Dallas, Nashville and the LA Kings. Of course, as you will see below, there is the other side of this equation. Times two.
5. Six of the Wild's last 10 games are against teams who did not make the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2015-16.
And now, the bad:
1. Four 4-game road trips, including two Western Canada swings which wind up in Canadian cities not in the West. A few 2-3,000 mile trans-Canada flights in the future. Ugh.
2. Nine weeks (Sunday-to-Saturday), when the Wild play four games in that seven-day time frame. This include the last five weeks IN A ROW, after the Wild's CBA-mandated 'break'. (BTW: The break was a CBA-negotiated change, in order to allow players to play in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto in September).
3. The Wild play 9 Saturday home games, 5 Sunday home games, and 3 Friday home games. All three days feature afternoon games. In fact, the Wild play AT HOME at 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, 5:00, 6:00, 7:00 and 8:00. As I've said in previous seasons: 'Have a nice time!'
And now, the ugly:
1. The Wild play at least one game at 5:00 PM (or earlier) 13 times in 2016-17, 7 home, 6 away.
2. The Wild play four games per week each of the last 5 weeks. 20 games in the season's last 33 days. 10 home, 10 away.
Start your planning, folks...