One non-schedule note first: Hat tip to EliteProspects for this story on Tim Jackman, who has not retired but changed careers. A good dude when he was here.
Back to playing with the spy camera. A few notes on the schedule after banging it into stats files:
–There are, as mentioned, 11 three-in-threes, plus, as not mentioned, 13 standalone back-to-backs. That’s how last year’s schedule originally broke down, too. The blizzard in late January that postponed a Hartford home game and a Hershey road game changed that to 12 standalones.
–Speaking of blizzards… With the current AHL rule that doesn’t allow a team to play four games in five nights, Bridgeport has a quirky back half of the season. The only dates on which Bridgeport could insert a makeup game after Jan. 10, as the schedule now stands, are Feb. 2 (coming out of the All-Star break, creating a three-in-three and probably messing with people’s travel plans) and April 12-13 (the last week of the regular season; the latter date creates a three-in-three). Bridgeport’s weather postponements the past few years have all come in late January or early February. Any postponed games could force shuffling. (There are many spots in the schedule, though, where the teams could make up a game quickly, say the next night, without running afoul of the four-in-five rule. That could be an option if it becomes necessary, which hopefully it won’t.) (And if it really came down to it, I assume Easter Sunday, April 16, is a last resort.)
–If familiarity breeds contempt, the Sound Tigers have four back-to-back home-and-homes scheduled, one with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in November, and three with Providence: two in February, one in April. They also face Springfield in consecutive games in February, though those games are Saturday/Tuesday, and both are here. There’s an old-fashioned “see you twice in a weekend” set with Springfield in late October, but both teams have a (home) game in between.
(Checked, BTW: The league plans to treat the ThunderCougarFalconBirds as a new entity, not a Portland continuation.)
–That home-and-home with the Penguins is part of four meetings in 22 days in November between WBS and Bridgeport. The Sound Tigers meet Utica three times in 14 days in March.
–Hershey comes to Bridgeport on three consecutive Sundays in February. Seriously. Its fourth and final trip in is three Sundays after the last visit.
–I kind of love that Toronto and Rochester are here back-to-back days in January. Like they’re Ivy League travel partners, the Eastern Conference’s western teams.
–A preliminary RestWatch for the three-in-threes: There are only a couple where you’d say Bridgeport gets hit hard, and there’s no case in those 11 where the other team won’t also be completing three-in-three.
In mid-January, Bridgeport will visit Providence on a Sunday afternoon (the only road Sunday of these 11 weekends) after going to Binghamton on Friday and playing at home Saturday; the Bruins, meanwhile, will have been home and at Springfield. In mid-February, the Feb. 19 Hershey game caps a weekend where the Sound Tigers play at Rochester on Friday night, then have a 1 p.m. game at Albany on Saturday (ow; three-plus-hour drive in between, plus the Devils are home that Friday), and then come home; the Bears will have spent two days in Providence.
In the other nine three-in-threes, the Sound Tigers are at home Saturday/Sunday and generally don’t have a vicious Friday travel, except for March 10-12, when they start at Utica on Friday before a home game; Hartford is all on the road, at Wilkes-Barre, at Springfield and on to Harbor Yard, so that’s probably (mild) Advantage BST anyway.
In contrast, Binghamton in November plays two home games before coming in; the Sound Tigers are at Wilkes-Barre on Friday and home Saturday. (That’s logically one of the 5 p.m. Sunday starts; the other’s a straight back-to-back for Bridgeport where it’s in Binghamton on Saturday and the Penguins, completing three-in-three, are coming from home.) Lehigh Valley is home on Dec. 2 and at Hershey the next night; Bridgeport is at Springfield/home. Rochester tours New England in late January; Bridgeport is, again, at Springfield/home. Hershey for Feb. 10-12 is at Wilkes-Barre/home; Bridgeport is at Providence/home. Hershey Feb. 24-26? At Hartford, back to Giant Center, then back to Bridgeport for a 3 p.m. start, while the Sound Tigers are home-and-homing with the Bruins.
Long story short, it’ll be a levelish playing field on those Sunday afternoons, and in most cases, Bridgeport won’t be at a major travel disadvantage.
(Schedules subject to change, etc. I haven’t done the other side, checking when Bridgeport might have a back-to-back advantage against a team playing three-in-three, aside from noticing that WBS one in December. Exercise for the reader, etc.)