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2008-09 and 2009-10 NJ Devils Schedule Comparison

The 2009-10 schedule was released on Wednesday and after it came out and I pointed out some interesting aspects of it in this post, I began to wonder how it compares to this past season's schedule.  With an Olympic break taking out two weeks in February, surely this season's schedule must be more congested for the New Jersey Devils, right?  Are they playing that many more back-to-back sets of games?  What about the distribution of games by month? With half of February cut off, where are these games made up?

Therefore, I took a look at both schedules for some basic comparisons.   Ultimately, the 2009-10 schedule is more compressed than last season's, but it's not as bad as one may think. Read on after the jump for the details.   (Aside: The Devils signed Cory Murphy earlier today, here's my post for that in case you're not interested in schedules.)

On Wednesday night, I pointed out that the Devils will be playing 19 back-to-back sets of games with 13 of them alternating between home and away games for New Jersey.   19 sets represent 38 games, which is 46.3% of the whole season.  In fact, here's the whole list of the back-to-back sets of games the Devils will play next season.
  1. 10/16 (vs. Atlanta) – 10/17 (vs. Carolina)
  2. 10/28 (vs. Buffalo) – 10/29 (@ Boston)
  3. 11/6 (vs. Islanders) – 11/7 (@ Ottawa)
  4. 11/11 (vs. Anaheim) – 11/12 (@ Pittsburgh)
  5. 11/27 (@ Boston) – 11/28 (vs. Islanders)
  6. 12/4 (vs. Tampa Bay) – 12/5 (vs. Detroit)
  7. 12/11 (vs. Florida) – 12/12 (vs. Philadelphia)
  8. 12/18 (vs. Ottawa) – 12/19 (@ Atlanta)
  9. 12/30 (vs. Pittsburgh) – 12/31 (@ Chicago)
  10. 1/8 (vs. Tampa Bay) – 1/9 (@ Montreal)
  11. 1/22 (vs. Montreal) – 1/23 (@ Islanders)
  12. 1/26 (@ Ottawa) – 1/27 (@ Buffalo)
  13. 2/5 (vs. Toronto) – 2/6 (@ Rangers)
  14. 2/12 (vs. Nashville) – 2/13 (@ Carolina)
  15. 3/12 (vs. Pittsburgh) – 3/13 (@ Islanders)
  16. 3/17 (vs. Pittsburgh) – 3/18 (@ Toronto)
  17. 3/27 (@ Montreal) – 3/28 (@ Philadelphia)
  18. 4/2 (vs. Chicago) – 4/3 (@ Carolina)
  19. 4/10 (vs. Islanders) – 4/11 (vs. Buffalo)

While nearly half of a season playing consecutive games is a lot; it's not that much different from last seasons.  In 2008-09, the Devils actually played 18 back-to-back sets of games (36 games, 43.9% of the season).  So we're talking just two more games on consecutive dates from last season. 

What is different is how many of them alternate between home-and-away games, the ones where the Devils get to "enjoy" travelling to the second game and recovering from the previous night's game in less than 24 hours either to or from home.  In 2009-10, the Devils have to do this for 13 out of the 19 sets.   Last season, it was only 10 out of 18.  While it's still over half of the back-to-back sets; it's still less quick travel to/from the Rock.   

There is one small improvement for this coming season. The Devils have fewer back-to-back sets where both games are on the road.  In 2008-09, the Devils had 5 of them; the Devils only have 3 of them for this coming season. 

With respect to distribution of games by month, here's how it breaks down (H = home game, A = away game).

Month 2008-09 2009-10 Change to 09-10
October 4 H, 5 A 5 H, 7 A +1 H, +2 A = +3 GP
November 8 H, 5 A 6 H, 6 A -2 H, +1 A = -1 GP
December 7 H, 7 A 10 H, 5 A +3 H, -2 A = +1 GP
January 5 H, 9 A 6 H, 9 A +1 H = +1 GP
February 8 H, 4 A 3 H, 4 A -5 H = -5 GP
March 6 H, 8 A 8 H, 7 A +2 H, -1 A = +1 GP
April 3 H, 3 A 3 H, 3 A N/A


Right away, the loss of those two weeks in February are made up in October for the most part - though the games are just largely spread out the other months. The Olympic break knocks out only home games compared to last season, so they've been moved elsewhere.  And on top of that,  November becomes more "even" in terms of home and away games.  Though, March has more home games this season and December increases the home games drastically. Again, if you want to see the Rock and you're not sure when you'll be free on your trip to NJ, then December is the time to do it in 2009! 

Still, the biggest difference outside of February is still in October, where the Devils play 3 more games.  This is actually easily explained by the fact that the season a week earlier than last season.  The Devils opened up 2008-09 against the Islanders on October 10.  This season, the Devils begin with the Flyers on October 3.  Three games can be played in a week and in this coming season, that's exactly what happens as the Devils go on to play 2 more games before October 10, 2009.  This earlier start goes a long way in preventing a massive congestion elsewhere in the schedule.

There are a few similarities to last season as well. April is the same in terms of game distribution; October skews towards more road games like last season; and January remains loaded with more road games. 

Overall, I'd say that the 2009-10 schedule is more compressed than last season's but it isn't as major as one might think due to the following facts: the Devils are playing only one more back-to-back set, every month outside of April has been adjusted to make up for the two week Olympic break, and that the season does start earlier to make up half of that difference.  Plus, the Devils don't have any truly nasty sets (in terms of travel) like the ones Dirk Hoag discovered at On the Forecheck. Still, the Devils are playing one more back-to-back sets, more alternating back-to-back sets, and the Devils still have two months skewed towards home (December 2009) and away (January 2010).

Regardless of how the schedule stacks up, the Devils still need to give a good effort, earn points, and continue to succeed.