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New York Islanders 2009-10 Schedule: Diving in

One thing to keep in mind, before we register further complaint about the Islanders' schedule, is that it sounds like every fanbase has reason to say, "Who came up with this thing?"

That's the case every season when you try to herd cats -- or rather, fit 30 teams' 82-game schedule into travel patterns, around big dates and holidays, and into multi-use facilities. But it's particularly so when the league takes the second half of February off for the Olympics.

That said, there's nothing wrong with crying in our drinks about scheduling hardships, conspiracies and near-misses  -- for we humans are good at this game. There's also nothing wrong with the filp-side: Thanking our lucky stars that Molly McWaffle called off the wedding (again), leaving us free to catch the Islanders-Devils matinee the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Or allowing a moment to thank Uncle Edgar for, if he had to go this week, at least he waited until after the big game. (And maybe, just maybe, we'll let us think he planned it that way as a parting gesture. Thanks, Uncle Ed!)

After the jump, some highlights and lowlights of John Tavares' first NHL schedule in all of its glory.

The Forechecker's end-all, be-all NHL Super Schedule

If you didn't already check it out in the morning links, you better take a gander at Dirk's (of Preds blog On the Forecheck) annual NHL Super Schedule. That's where you'll see that the Islanders have 19 back-to-back game sets (tied for most in the league) but also that the Islanders have one of the smallest total mileage traveled in the league (31,550 as the crow flies). The Isles, Devils and Rangers are always sitting pretty in that department.

The Opener - Sat. Oct. 3: #87 flashes his Cup ring in #91's eye

At home, against the Cup champs, but get this: The Penguins will have raised their Cup banner at home the night before against the Short Island Smurfs (that's the Rangers, in my dad's vocab). Maybe Brashear will already have taken out one of their stars.

The Matinees and Holidays: Because it's never too early to drink overpriced beer

  • The first weekday matinee (Kids Day?) is Monday, Oct. 12 at 1 p.m. against Los Angeles.
  • Friday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 27) is home at 1 p.m. against the Penguins.
  • Sunday after Christmas (Dec. 27) is a 5 p.m. home start against the Flyers.
  • President's Day Monday, Jan. 12, is 2 p.m. against the Devils.
  • Saturday, Feb. 13 is home at 2 p.m. to the Lightning; the next day (Valentine's Day, for the conscripted) is a 5 p.m. start against the Devils.
  • Saturday, March 6 is home at 2 p.m. to the Bruins.
  • Couple more Sunday games at 5 p.m.: March 14 with the Leafs, and the season-ending April 11 with the Pens.
  • Saturday, April 3, is also a 2 p.m. start with the Senators.

October's March

As was noted in comments yesterday, the lineup of October opponents is hardly a bunch of patsies, with the Sharks and (improved?) Kings, plus the Caps and Habs twice each. But anything should be better than last year's 2-6-1 October, when the Isles last saw .500 after Game 4.

The Road Trip: Nov. 11-23, 7 games

Now that's just brutal, though not quite as brutal as it looks. Games in D.C., Carolina, Florida and Boston will be one swing; then it's a three-day break before resuming in Minnesota, St. Louis and Toronto Monday Nov. 23. The worst part is that Thanksgiving week they have four games, including home to Pittsburgh on Friday and then a matinee in New Jersey the next day. Holy turkey hangover for all the young kids. Last year's post-Thanksgiving game was the awful 7-2 loss in Boston.

A Home December

The travels don't end there -- December starts with four more road games, through Atlanta (12/3), Tampa Bay (12/5), Philadelphia (12/8) and Toronto (12/9). Then the home cookin' starts: 8 of the next 10 games are at home, and the only two that aren't are at Madison Square Garden. Speaking of which...

Short Island Smurfs and the Gabby Groins

The first match with the Rangers is at home Wednesday, Oct. 28. After that, nothing until a home-and-home (Dec. 16-17), and a rubber match four games later on the day after Christmas at the Garden. The Battle of New York concludes March 24 (away) and March 30 (home).

New Year's Eve in ... Kanata?

Like last year, the Islanders are playing on New Year's Eve. Instead of playing at home and then flying out West, though, they'll be on the road in Ottawa. Don't feel bad for the players though: As luck would have it, this year the Canadian New Year falls on the same day as ours.

The Olympic Break: Feb. 15 - March 1

The Islanders have six February games before players report to the beach ... or to their country's camp in Vancouver. Which way will Kyle Okposo go?

The Longest Road: March 16-20, 3 games out West

The Islanders visit Vancouver (March 16), Anaheim (March 19), and Los Angeles (March 20). Four days later, they're at the Garden.

The Preseason

The preseason isn't set yet and should be different with the training camp in Saskatoon. One thing we know: Sept. 22 in Kansas City against the Kings.

Living in the Midwest, I may be the only Islanders fan happy about the game in K.C. (particularly if it will no longer feel like a veiled relocation threat). For that reason, for me the season starts there, in September. Thanks to a death in the family and some other road trip cancelations, I didn't get to see the Islanders at all in person last year -- neither in New York nor on their trips to Nashville, Chicago or Minneapolis. So I'm feeling a bit famished and will be enjoying that preseason game more than any rational being should.

Other than that, depending on domestic priorities, I'm looking at one or two trips during the regular season, plus their visit to St. Louis in the middle of that November road trip.

Thanks everybody for the schedule feedback yesterday. Any more thoughts, road trip plans, or -- if you're a fan in the disaspora -- a date where they come near you (such as catching them out West)? Chatter away. I'm a bit biased, but I like hearing tales of catching teams on the road.