When it comes to a new schedule, it’s always good for a hockey team when the pros outweigh the cons.
Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher reinforced that notion on Wednesday when he said he was “pleasantly surprised’’ by the team’s reconfigured 56-game slate.
The NHL released the schedule for all teams Wednesday afternoon and Fletcher gave the impression he breathed a sigh of relief when getting his first look at the way the Flyers’ games are configured.
As things are set up, the Flyers and the rest of the teams will only play intradivision games.
That means far less plane travel and hotel stays.
As for a possible down side, such as fewer days off, etc., Fletcher pointed out there will be only eight back-to-back situations as opposed to recent seasons when the Flyers had as many as 18.
“I’m really pleased with our schedule,’’ Fletcher said during a media conference call. “Obviously we’re in an incredibly difficult division. It was difficult last season and it certainly isn’t any easier this season.
“In terms of schedule construction, it’s better than I anticipated. We have eight back-to-backs, we don’t change time zones. In terms of our division, I don’t think any of us can have any complaints.’’
Essentially, the Flyers will only have to fly to three cities: Boston, Buffalo and Pittsburgh. Those are just one-hour or so flights.
The others – Washington, New Jersey and the two New York teams – can be reached by train or bus.
“We’ll have fewer air miles flown,’’ Fletcher said. “There’s going to be more recovery time than I anticipated. I guess I’m pleasantly surprised.’’
Then there’s the prospect of playing the old Metro Division rivals eight times each. There’s time to get some real bad blood going with the likes of teams like the Penguins, Capitals and Rangers.
“The Patrick Division, we’re bringing it back!’’ Fletcher said with a chuckle. “It will be great. It will be tough, last year I thought we had the best division in the league.
“I think it’s the same this year. All eight teams could make the playoffs, all eight could miss. There will be a decent amount of drama and tension.
“In terms of establishing some rivalries and renewing some others, I think it will be tremendous. It will be great for our fans and I think the players will enjoy it. We won’t have to do a lot of pre-scouting; it will save our coaches a lot of time – you’re only playing seven teams all year.’’
The 56-game campaign will begin on Wednesday, Jan. 13 when the Flyers host the Pittsburgh Penguins at Wells Fargo Center. The regular season runs through Saturday, May 8, when the Flyers will conclude the campaign in Washington against the Capitals.
According to the Flyers, as mentioned, the schedule will see the Flyers play each of the seven other teams a total of eight times – four at home and four on the road.
They will not play any regular-season games against any other NHL teams. As a further health safeguard, the schedule is constructed generally in pairs of games against teams in the same city.
Pittsburgh’s season-opening trip to Philadelphia also includes a second game on Friday, Jan. 15, after which the Buffalo Sabres come to town for two games on the 18th and 19th.
The Flyers then hit the road for pairs of games in Boston and New Jersey. This scheduling technique is predominant over most of the season, and is exclusive over its first month through mid-February.
The eight sets of back-to-back games over the course of the season will take place in the same city with no travel in between. Five of these eight situations will see both games played in Philadelphia.
There are two road back-to-backs in March – the Flyers will visit the Rangers on the 17th and Islanders on the 18th, and will play a pair of games in Buffalo on the 29th and 30th. The season then ends with a back-to-back set at Washington.
The schedule is fairly consistent from month to month, with 10 games over the final 18 games of January, 12 in February, 15 in March, 14 in April and five in the first eight days of May.
At no point in the campaign will the Flyers have more than two days off between games; their lightest stretch will come during the third week of February, when they will play just once from Feb. 19-23.
The Flyers say that dAsue to current local and state restrictions, the Flyers anticipate beginning the season with no fans inside Wells Fargo Center. As the season progresses, the Flyers and Wells Fargo Center will continue to work closely with government and health officials to execute a plan that will safely allow patrons to return when it is appropriate to do so.
>Flyers’ 2020-21 regular season schedule
Wed. January 13 vs. Pittsburgh T.B.A. Fri. January 15 vs. Pittsburgh T.B.A. Mon. January 18 vs. Buffalo T.B.A. Tue. January 19 vs. Buffalo T.B.A. Thu. January 21 @ Boston T.B.A. Sat. January 23 @ Boston T.B.A. Tue. January 26 @ New Jersey T.B.A. Thu. January 28 @ New Jersey T.B.A. Sat. January 30 vs. N.Y. Islanders T.B.A. Sun. January 31 vs. N.Y. Islanders T.B.A.
Wed. February 3 vs. Boston T.B.A. Fri. February 5 vs. Boston T.B.A. Sun. February 7 @ Washington T.B.A. Tue. February 9 @ Washington T.B.A. Thu. February 11 vs. New Jersey T.B.A. Sat. February 13 vs. New Jersey T.B.A. Tue. February 16 @ N.Y. Rangers T.B.A. Thu. February 18 vs. N.Y. Rangers T.B.A. Sun. February 21 @ Boston T.B.A. Wed. February 24 vs. N.Y. Rangers T.B.A. Fri. February 26 @ Buffalo T.B.A. Sun. February 28 @ Buffalo T.B.A.
Tue. March 2 @ Pittsburgh T.B.A. Thu. March 4 @ Pittsburgh T.B.A. Sun. March 7 @ Boston T.B.A. Tue. March 9 vs. Buffalo T.B.A. Thu. March 11 vs. Washington T.B.A. Sat. March 13 vs. Washington T.B.A. Mon. March 15 @ N.Y. Rangers T.B.A. Wed. March 17 @ N.Y. Rangers T.B.A. Thu. March 18 @ N.Y. Islanders T.B.A. Sat. March 20 @ N.Y. Islanders T.B.A. Tue. March 23 vs. New Jersey T.B.A. Thu. March 25 vs. N.Y. Rangers T.B.A. Sat. March 27 vs. N.Y. Rangers T.B.A. Mon. March 29 @ Buffalo T.B.A. Tue. March 30 @ Buffalo T.B.A.
Sat. April 3 @ N.Y. Islanders T.B.A. Mon. April 5 vs. Boston T.B.A. Tue. April 6 vs. Boston T.B.A. Thu. April 8 @ N.Y. Islanders T.B.A. Sun. April 11 vs. Buffalo T.B.A. Tue. April 13 @ Pittsburgh T.B.A. Thu. April 15 @ Pittsburgh T.B.A. Sat. April 17 vs. Washington T.B.A. Sun. April 18 vs. N.Y. Islanders T.B.A. Tue. April 20 @ New Jersey T.B.A. Fri. April 23 @ N.Y. Rangers T.B.A. Sun. April 25 vs. N.Y. Islanders T.B.A. Tue. April 27 vs. Washington T.B.A. Thu. April 29 @ New Jersey T.B.A.
Sat. May 1 vs. New Jersey T.B.A. Mon. May 3 vs. Pittsburgh T.B.A. Tue. May 4 vs. Pittsburgh T.B.A. Fri. May 7 @ Washington T.B.A. Sat. May 8 @ Washington T.B.A.