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Coyotes’ 2018-19 schedule a little more travel friendly

Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet watches during the second period of the team's NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

The Coyotes won’t have the brutal travel schedule this season that they endured to start the 2017-18 season. That’s a plus, but they’ll still deal with some travel issues that they may want to address with the league.

The Coyotes released their regular-season schedule on Thursday. As previously noted, they will open the regular season on Oct. 4 at Dallas. Their home opener is Oct. 6 against the Anaheim.

The team’s longest road trips of the season will each be four games: Oct. 16-23 (Minnesota, Chicago, Winnipeg, Columbus), Nov. 8-13 (Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington, Detroit), Dec. 11-16 (Boston, Buffalo, New York Rangers, Carolina) and March 18-24 (Tampa Bay, Florida, New Jersey, New York Islanders).

That’s all well and good, but after all of those trips, they come home from the Eastern time zone and face a team two days after that road trip ended. The same thing happens in February when they return from Nashville (Central time zone) and face the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“I’m trying to understand why that happens every year,” coach Rick Tocchet said. “We come back from the East Coast or the central, and we don’t get two days off. That’s a competitive advantage for the team we’re playing. It’s definitely something we’re going to have to manage.”

Tocchet was quick to note that he’s happy the early travel schedule doesn’t look like last season’s, and he’s generally more pleased with the schedule. In the first two months of the season, the Coyotes play an even split of 12 home games and 12 road games.

The Coyotes will play four games each against Pacific Division rivals Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, San Jose, Vancouver and Vegas, while facing Anaheim five times for a total of 29 Pacific Division games.

They will face the seven Central Division teams three times each for a total of 21 games, and they will play each of the 16 Eastern Conference teams twice, once at home; once on the road.

The Coyotes’ season-long home stand will be seven games against Winnipeg (Feb. 24), Florida (Feb. 26), Vancouver (Feb. 28), Detroit (March 2), Anaheim (March 5), Calgary (March 7) and Los Angeles (March 9).

The busiest months are December (seven home games, eight road games) and March (eight home games, seven road games) with 15 games in each, but February is a tough month because the All-Star break and the team’s five-day, CBA-mandated break are lumped together from Jan. 23 to Feb. 2.

The Coyotes play 14 games in 27 February days, with only two occasions where they get more than one day in between, and two back-to-back sets. The team will play a total of 10 back-to-back sets.

The start time for all weekday home games will be 7 p.m. except for Nov. 23 vs. Colorado (6 p.m.), Jan. 2 vs. Edmonton (7 p.m.) and Jan. 16 vs. San Jose (8 p.m.). All Saturday home games at Gila River Arena will start at 6 p.m. except for Dec. 22 vs. Colorado (5 p.m.), Feb. 9 vs. Dallas (2 p.m.), Feb. 16 vs. Toronto (5 p.m.), Mar. 16 vs. Edmonton (7 p.m.) and April 6 vs. Winnipeg (7 p.m.).

The schedule will also feature five Sunday home games – a recent rarity — including Nov. 25 vs. Calgary (1 p.m.), Dec. 30 vs. Vegas (6 p.m.), Jan. 6 vs. N.Y. Rangers (2 p.m.), Feb. 24 vs. Winnipeg (7 p.m.) and March 31 vs. Minnesota (2 p.m.).

“We had to be within the confines of the CBA but we tried to do more day games on the weekends,” Coyotes COO Ahron Cohen said. “It’s a fun opportunity to get younger fans and families to experience Coyotes games. As the father of a 1.5-year-old, I’m sure they’re excited for those games. We’ll make those more family-friendly with promotional and in-arena stuff.”

Here is the full schedule, with home game in capital letters (all games are AZ time).

PRESEASON
Sun. Sept. 16: at Vegas, 5 p.m.
Tues. Sept. 18: LOS ANGELES, 7 p.m.
Tues. Sept. 18: at Los Angeles, 7:30 p.m.
Sat. Sept. 22: ANAHEIM, 6 p.m.
Mon. Sept. 24: at Anaheim, 7 p.m.
Thur. Sept. 27: at Edmonton, 6 p.m.
Sat. Sept. 29: at Vancouver, 7 p.m.

REGULAR SEASON
OCTOBER

Thur. Oct. 4: at Dallas, 5:30 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 6: ANAHEIM, 6 p.m.
Wed. Oct. 10: at Anaheim, 7 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 13: BUFFALO, 6 p.m.
Tues. Oct. 16: at Minnesota, 5 p.m.
Thur. Oct. 18: at Chicago, 5:30 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 20: at Winnipeg, 12 p.m.
Tues. Oct. 23: at Columbus, 4 p.m.
Thur. Oct. 25: VANCOUVER, 7 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 27: TAMPA BAY, 6 p.m.
Tues. Oct. 30: OTTAWA, 7 p.m.

NOVEMBER
Fri. Nov. 2: CAROLINA, 7 p.m.
Mon. Nov. 5: PHILADELPHIA, 7 p.m.
Thur. Nov. 8: at Philadelphia, 5 p.m.
Sat. Nov. 10: at Pittsburgh, 5 p.m.
Sun. Nov. 11: at Washington, 3 p.m.
Tues. Nov. 13: at Detroit, 5:30 p.m.
Thur. Nov. 15: NASHVILLE, 7 p.m.
Sat. Nov. 17: BOSTON, 6 p.m.
Wed. Nov. 21: VEGAS, 7 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 23: COLORADO, 6 p.m.
Sun. Nov. 25: CALGARY, 1 p.m.
Tues. Nov. 27: at Minnesota, 6 p.m.
Thur. Nov. 29: at Nashville, 6 p.m.

DECEMBER
Sat. Dec. 1: ST. LOUIS, 6 p.m.
Tues. Dec. 4: at Los Angeles, 8:30 p.m.
Thur. Dec. 6: WASHINGTON, 7 p.m.
Sat. Dec. 8: SAN JOSE, 6 p.m.
Tues. Dec. 11: at Boston, 5 p.m.
Thur. Dec. 13: at Buffalo, 5 p.m.
Fri. Dec. 14: at N.Y. Rangers, 5 p.m.
Sun. Dec. 16: at Carolina, 11 a.m.
Tues. Dec. 18: N.Y. ISLANDERS, 7 p.m.
Thur. Dec. 20: MONTREAL, 7 p.m.
Sat. Dec. 22: COLORADO, 5 p.m.
Sun. Dec. 23: at San Jose, 6 p.m.
Thur. Dec. 27: at Los Angeles, 8:30 p.m.
Sat. Dec 29: at Anaheim, 8 p.m.
Sun. Dec. 30: VEGAS 6 p.m.

JANUARY
Wed. Jan. 2: EDMONTON, 7:30 p.m.
Fri. Jan. 4: NEW JERSEY, 7 p.m.
Sun. Jan. 6: N.Y. RANGERS, 2 p.m.
Thur. Jan. 10: at Vancouver, 8 p.m.
Sat. Jan. 12: at Edmonton, 8 p.m.
Sun. Jan. 13: at Calgary, 7:30 p.m.
Wed. Jan. 16: SAN JOSE, 8 p.m.
Fri. Jan. 18: PITTSBURGH, 7 p.m.
Sun. Jan. 20: at Toronto, 5 p.m.
Tues. Jan 22: at Ottawa, 5:30 p.m.
Wed. Jan. 23: at Montreal, 5:30 p.m.

FEBRUARY
Sat. Feb. 2: at San Jose, 8:30 p.m.
Mon. Feb. 4: at Dallas, 6:30 p.m.
Tues. Feb. 5: at Nashville, 6 p.m.
Thur. Feb. 7: COLUMBUS, 7 p.m.
Sat. Feb. 9: DALLAS, 2 p.m.
Tues. Feb. 12: at Vegas, 8 p.m.
Thur. Feb. 14: ST. LOUIS, 7 p.m.
Sat. Feb. 16: TORONTO, 5 p.m.
Mon. Feb. 18: at Calgary, 2 p.m.
Tues. Feb. 19: at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
Thur. Feb. 21: at Vancouver, 8 p.m.
Sun. Feb. 24: WINNIPEG, 7 p.m.
Tues. Feb. 26: FLORIDA, 7 p.m.
Thur. Feb. 28: VANCOUVER, 7 p.m.

MARCH
Sat. March 2: DETROIT, 6 p.m.
Tues. March 5: ANAHEIM, 7 p.m.
Thur. March 7: CALGARY, 7 p.m.
Sat. March 9: LOS ANGELES, 6 p.m.
Mon. March 11: at Chicago, 5:30 p.m.
Tues. March 12: at St. Louis, 5 p.m.
Thur. March 14: ANAHEIM, 7 p.m.
Sat. March 16: EDMONTON, 7 p.m.
Mon. March 18: at Tampa Bay, 4:30 p.m.
Thur. March 21: at Florida, 4 p.m.
Sat. March 23: at New Jersey, 10 a.m.
Sun. March 24: at N.Y. Islanders, 12 p.m.+
Tues. March 26: CHICAGO, 7 p.m.
Fri. March 29: at Colorado, 6 p.m.
Sun. March 31: MINNESOTA, 2 p.m.

APRIL
Tues. April 2: LOS ANGELES, 7 p.m.
Thur. April 4: at Vegas, 7 p.m.
Sat. April 6: WINNIPEG, 7 p.m.