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Has the season even started? Early scheduling is a joke

I think we understand what's at stake here with the NFL playing as well and the MLB playoffs and all that. It's a time where hockey is on the back seat so we'll have to deal with that.

>> Danny Briere

When the Flyers take the ice against the Bruins tonight at the Wachovia Center, it will be their second game in 11 days. They've played just six games up until now while most teams in the NHL have played eight or nine. Sure, that doesn't seem like a big difference, but early in the season, a stretch like this without playing real live NHL hockey can be devastating to a club.

Take a look at last Saturday when the Flyers played the Panthers on five days of rest. As Ben Rothenberg put it, the team "lacked explosiveness" all game long. That's what happens when you are out of game action for such an extended period of time. The cobwebs form. To a certain extent, you forget how to play the game of hockey. And this early in the season when a team is still developing chemistry, it makes the task even more difficult and puts them way behind the eight-ball.

Of course, as the players all will say, it's not an excuse. They're right. As professionals, they have to deal with this stuff. But there's no reason for it to be taking place. As Briere said above, the NFL and MLB playoffs could be a reason for the gap in games. Well, if it is, that makes absolutely no sense, because the schedule is written before anybody knew the Phillies would still be in the postseason. As for the NFL, there is no reason why their schedule should overshadow that of the NHL  -- they only play two days a week, and those two days are the thinnest on the NHL's schedule throughout the year.

No, if there's any excuse, it would be the start of the NBA season, considering that most cities have teams that share buildings. But logistical concerns like that have been worked out between the teams and the leagues for decades now, and the NBA season doesn't even start until this weekend.

After tonight, the Flyers will feel the flipside of the scheduling coin. In November, they'll play 13 games in 26 days and in December they'll play 15 games in 27 days. That's a treacherous run that, with inevitable injury, could potentially kill a teams' hopes. But every team will go through most of the schedule like that this year. It's an Olympic year, which means that the league will stop for two weeks in February as many players travel to Vancouver to represent their countries.

With 16 days off for the Games and these 10 days off now, the Flyers will be forced to play all of their 82 games in much less time than every other team in the league. It hurts the brain to understand why this is happening. The NHL should have used every opportunity to spread games out as much as possible this year, but instead, a lapse by the league's schedulers has put the Flyers at a severe disadvantage.