Breaking Down the 2011-12 Schedule
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The Canes will start the season just how they ended the last one – a home date with the Tampa Bay Lightning. On the surface, there won’t be quite as much at stake this time, but clearly, every point matters in the long run.
It will also mark the second consecutive season that the Hurricanes have kicked off their campaign on Oct. 7, with a slight difference being that this season’s edition won’t be in Finland. That trip and the annual mid-October State Fair roadie had the team playing their home opener on Oct. 27 in 2009-10, a date they will beat by 20 days this year.
THE ANNUAL MID-OCTOBER STATE FAIR ROADIE
The Hurricanes will sneak in two home games, their opener against the Lightning and an Oct. 12 date with the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, before departing on their four-game trip that coincides with the North Carolina State Fair being held in Raleigh.
This year’s trip, an eight-day swing through Buffalo, Boston, St. Louis and Winnipeg, will be far less grueling than the year prior. That trip led the already road-weary team from Ottawa to Phoenix with stops in Vancouver, San Jose and Los Angeles over the course of nine days. While this year’s features a tricky back-to-back set in St. Louis and Winnipeg, it pales by comparison.
In the big picture, the Hurricanes are still playing just two of their first eight games at home, which may not be ideal but is something they’ve come to expect.
The schedule makers seem to have done a good job of softening the potential impact of having a division rival 1,300 miles away, at least from the Canes’ perspective. All three of Carolina’s visits to Winnipeg are part of longer western swings, eliminating fears of prolonged single-game trips that were routine with Atlanta.
In addition to the State Fair trip outlined above, the Canes visit Winnipeg after playing Calgary and Edmonton in December, and again in March as part of a back-to-back set with Minnesota. The as-of-yet-unnamed Manitoba team first visits Raleigh the day after Thanksgiving – Nov. 25.
This season, the Hurricanes will play home-and-home slates with Anaheim, Nashville and St. Louis. They will face all other Western Conference foes just once, with the breakdown as follows:
The most road-intensive portion of the Hurricanes schedule comes at the end of the season – a time that has been dominated by home games in recent years as the team makes its playoff push.
This season, the team will play 12 of its final 17 games on the road, including a stretch where they play 10 of 12 March games in opposing cities. A five-game swing early in the month marks the team’s longest of the season and includes two sets of back-to-back games. Five of the team’s 16 sets of back-to-back games (down from 21 last season) occur during the month of March, which includes just four home games and 10 away contests.
The Hurricanes will have some time to prepare for that portion of their schedule, as a season-high six-game homestand immediately precedes it.
With 10 home games and 15 total contests, November is the team’s busiest month in both categories … the team will be home for the holidays this season, with home games on either side of Thanksgiving (Nov. 23 and 25) and Christmas (Dec. 23 and 26). A notable exception is New Year’s with the Canes not appearing at home between Dec. 29 and Jan. 3.