Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Finding A Schedule

The season is almost a week in and it's off to the usual unbalanced start. Such is the case when select teams have played three and four times already while others twice and even a few only once. This is the madness that is the NHL. Where it's impossible to find a schedule that brings sanity to a brand new season. With the league expanding to Europe with four teams starting overseas on Opening Weekend (Buf, NYR, Ana, LA), it leaves those fans clamoring for more as well as players and coaches who must adjust to the travel without much practice time.

For the new look Terry Pegula Sabres, the 2-0 start is exactly the recipe. It's already been a big autumn for Western New York with the reemergence of the Bills, who bring an AFC best 4-1 mark into Met Life Stadium against the Giants this weekend. Suddenly, Buffalo is the place to be with things looking up for a town that hasn't had much to go ga ga over. While it's hard to predict if the football team will continue its run, Lindy Ruff's club should definitely be in the mix for '11-12. Especially if new acquisitions Ville Leino, Christian Ehrhoff and Robyn Regehr continue to jell with a strong core that still features Ryan Miller, Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Drew StaffordTyler Myers, Paul Gaustad and new captain Jason Pominville. Toss in promising kids Tyler Ennis, Nathan Gerbe and Luke Adam and there's plenty of ammunition. Since sweeping a weekend series from Anaheim and LA, the Sabres have been off before their home opener Friday versus Carolina. Then, they hit the Steel City Saturday against the sizzling Pens (3-0-1).

This is what you're dealing with. Will the travel combined with the layoff have any adverse affect? That's something the Rangers are wondering as well with no game till Saturday in Nassau when they meet blood rival Islanders before embarking on a four-game Western Canadian swing that includes stops at Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton with a close out at Winnipeg. Unlike the other three European participants, the Blueshirts don't return home until October 27th against Original Six Toronto due to Part I of the MSG Renovation. So, if they get off to a bad start, there'll be plenty of blame to go around. And guess what. Same thing next year and 2013. By the time the new Garden's completed, everyone will be sick of Europe.

Meanwhile, the Kings return to action tomorrow when they visit the Devils and Saturday the Flyers before returning home for St. Louis next Monday. Hardly fun. Think of all the travel just to return to Hollywood for practice and now they must head East for two and then all the way back out West with only two days off. Who drew that up? We're not touching that one.

At least Anaheim gets to stay home when they hit the ice Friday to host California rival San Jose. But they still must play three in four with St. Louis visiting Saurday before they finish an odd in between home-and-home with San Jose at HP Pavilion. They're not leaving California, which is probably the best a Duck fan could ask.

If only it were that simple for the Rangers. That's what happens when your arena turns into a big construction site nobody recognizes. I even had a dream about the new place. It was kinda bizarre. I was in the State Of The Art Garden that included upper echelon food chains (as advertised) and waited on a line for a cheeseburger and fries that ran 25 bucks without a drink. Uh. Seriously. I am not making this up. Then, when I tried to find our seats, it was literally a circus to get there. Don't ask. I still cannot figure out why I dreamt it. It's been over two weeks and I half wonder if this is how it really will be. Duck and cover?!?!?!?!?!

This is what happens when your mind is occupied. The good news is it's a little crisper today here in the metropolitan area, which means classic Fall weather. Unfortunately, I have to work. At least we can feel comfortable minus the humidity. Halloween's around the corner. By then, we'll be able to locate a schedule. But will you be able to discover who I'll be? Trick or treat.

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