Monday, July 22, 2013

2013-2014 NHL Regular Season Mileage

Have you ever wondered how many miles each team will travel during the 2013-14 NHL Regular Season? Once again statistical wizard Dirk Hoag has calculated the mileage for all 30 NHL teams this season.  His figures are presented below by conference and division.

                                    WESTERN CONFERENCE
Pacific 2013-14     Central 2013-14
San Jose Sharks 57,612     Colorado Avalanche 49,007
Phoenix Coyotes 52,633      Dallas Stars 46,660
Calgary Flames 48,970 Winnipeg Jets 46,477
Anaheim Ducks 48,568 Minnesota Wild 44,273
Vancouver Canucks       48,510 Nashville Predators 39,810
Los Angeles Kings 48,432 St. Louis Blues 39,328
Edmonton Oilers 45,192 Chicago Blackhawks     38,680
Average 49,988 Average 43,462

                                    EASTERN CONFERENCE
Atlantic 2013-14     Metropolitan 2013-14
Florida Panthers 45,136 Carolina Hurricanes 38,879
Tampa Bay Lightning   43,102 Pittsburgh Penguins 37,061
Boston Bruins 42,389 Columbus Blue Jackets   36,597
Montreal Canadiens 39,327 Washington Capitals 36,250
Toronto Maple Leafs 35,975 Philadelphia Flyers 34,929
Detroit Red Wings 35,324 New Jersey Devils 33,151
Ottawa Senators 34,850 New York Islanders 29,933
Buffalo Sabres 34,812 New York Rangers 29,839
Average 38,864 Average 34,580

With an eye towards reduced travel and pairing teams with their time zone neighbors, this season's NHL realignment has resulted in the reshuffling of teams from six divisions in to four divisions, including the disappearance of the Northeast, Southeast and Northwest, addition of the Metropolitan, and retooling of the Pacific, Central and Atlantic.

This year the most traveled team (San Jose Sharks) nearly doubles the mileage of the least traveled team (New York Rangers), with the average Western team logging 46,725 miles to the Eastern's 36,722 miles for a NHL average of 41,387 miles.  Breaking it down by division, the Pacific leads all others averaging 49,988 miles, followed by the Central (43,462), Atlantic (38,864) and Metropolitan (34,580).

The chart below sorts teams by most mileage to least for 2013-14 showing their total travel for the last 82 game season (2011-12) and the differential between miles traveled before and after realignment.

                                                 SUMMARY
Team Division 2013-14    2011-12   
+/-
Sharks Pacific 57,617         43,994        +13,623
Coyotes Pacific 52,633 49,192 +3,441
Avalanche Central 49,007 48,945 +62
Flames Pacific 48,970 49,104 -134
Ducks Pacific 48,568 50,296 -1,728
CanucksPacific48,51046,826
+1,684
Kings Pacific 48,432 55,591 -7,159
Stars Central 46,660 49,622 -2,962
Jets Central 46,477 44,627 -1,850
Oilers Pacific 45,192 50,006 -4,814
Panthers Atlantic 45,136 52,751 -7,615
Wild Central 44,273 42,860 +1,413
Lightning Atlantic 43,102 43,717 -615
Bruins Atlantic 42,389 33,770 +8,619
Predators Central 39,810 39,534 +276
Blues Central 39,328 38,781 +547
Canadiens Atlantic 39,327 39,174 +152
Hurricanes Metropolitan 38,879 38,114 +765
Blackhawks   Central 38,680 39,288 -608
Penguins Metropolitan    37,061 33,439 +3,622
Blue Jackets      Metropolitan      36,597 42,831 -6,234
Capitals Metropolitan 36,250 37,969 -1,719
Maple Leafs Atlantic 35,975 32,239 -3,736
Red Wings Atlantic 35,234 42,865 -7,631
Flyers Metropolitan 34,929 34,193 +736
Senators Atlantic 34,850 33,915 +935
Sabres Atlantic 34,812 35,911 -1,099
Devils Metropolitan 33,151 28,597 -4,554
Islanders Metropolitan 29,933 32,410 -2,477
Rangers Metropolitan 29,839 36,385
-6,546
Average 41,387 41,565
-178

Interestingly, NHL realignment has yielded an average savings of 178 miles per team, for a total league-wide savings of 5,340 miles. The San Jose Sharks (+13,623) and the Boston Bruins (+8,619) lead their respective conferences in terms of increased travel as against their pre-realignment 2011-12 mileage. Ten teams (1/3) have been impacted by less than 1,000 miles as compared to their 2011-12 mileage.

The NHL's new season structure calls for each team in each rink every year. Thus, the mileage savings achieved through pairing teams by proximity have been spent to afford improvements in the schedule. While most teams are now aligned with their geographic neighbors, there are still some peculiarities. Most notably, the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning have been paired with six teams in the northeast under the ambiguous Metropolitan namesake.

In addition to counting clicks, Hoag's Schedule tallies each team's number of back-to-back games showing an average of 15 such occurrences per club, the New Jersey Devils (22) leading all others and the Colorado Avalanche, San Jose Sharks and Winnipeg Jets playing the least (10).
NHL life is indeed a highway, flying thousands of miles all season long.

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