Road Trip From H. E. Double Hockey Sticks
Saturday night marks the beginning of a seven game road trip for the San Jose Sharks. That’s a long trip for any team. But for a number of reasons, this is arguably one of the worst scheduled road trips imaginable.
First and foremost, tonight’s game in Dallas starts off a trip that, come it’s conclusion, will have seen the Sharks play 16 of their first 21 games on the road. You heard that right, 16 road games versus just five home games. Three times as many road games as home contests in the first quarter of the season. That is absolutely brutal.
Then you factor in the knowledge from broadcaster and former player Jamie Baker that the previous three game road trip already saw the Sharks incredibly tired. Getting into hotels at three in the morning. While they had about the past week at home with just two games to play, that rest will soon be put to a real test. They are going to be playing their seven game trip over not 12, 13, or 14 days, no, no, only 11 days. Seven games and just four off days, with two sets of back-to-backs including this weekend in Dallas and in Chicago, two formidable Western Conference foes from the NHL’s strongest division.
And what about the mileage? Speaking of Baker, he put together a blog and mapped out the ridiculous zig-zag plane trips that the Sharks are going to take. Nearly 9,000 miles on this single trip, that takes them to Texas, up to Illinois, down to Florida, back up to Ohio, bit south east to Carolina, then back north to Buffalo before coming home to San Jose. Yes, in that awful, hideous order instead of something respectable like Illinois, Ohio, Buffalo, Carolina, Florida, Dallas, and then home.
Of course the road trip has to end in Buffalo, a team struggling year after year but has beaten the Sharks seven straight times. Can already hear Sharks fans bemoaning the team for losing that game and forgetting the brutality of this seven game road trip and first quarter of the schedule. If the Sharks can find a way to pull out a .500 trip, it will be impressive considering the quality of three out of the first four opponents (Dallas, Chicago, Tampa Bay), and then finishing on a back-to-back. Schedule makers don’t seem to be very fond of San Jose. That’s not to mention Roberto Luongo and his Panthers hardly allow anybody to score against them. Florida is eighth in the league with a 2.09 GAA. This has the potential for a poor road trip but it would be ridiculous to come down hard on the Sharks for finishing with something like a 2-4-1 mark.