By now, most Penguin fans are aware, at least vaguely, about how difficult the Pens’ October schedule is, at least travel-wise. I thought I’d put some numbers to it.

First, this map traces their travels. They went out to the west coast and back, with a stop in the lovely outposts of Calgary and Edmonton. They hung out in the Burgh for a few short days, then took off for the even more beautiful Winnipeg. They stopped in St. Paul on the way back, and will get to spend a few more days at home this week. But they still have (thankfully) shorter trips to Long Island and Toronto before Halloween. They will log about 7800 air miles, and have already visited all four time zones.

Now, when you have four teams going to Europe and back to start the season, we really have no right to complain about how many miles the team has traveled. And, in fact, that’s not really the issue. The issue is the large amount of games crammed into a compressed timeframe combined with the amount of travel.

The season isn’t yet two weeks old, but the Penguins have already played eight games. The teams that went to Europe (an admittedly more difficult trip) have played four or five games each. That is certainly a lot easier on the bodies than what the Pens are going through. To wit, they have played two sets of back-to-back games, both on the road. Tomorrow night will already be their fourth instance of three games in four nights. In two weeks! That is just ridiculous.

Now, if one wants to put a tin foil hat on in search of an explanation, one probably doesn’t need to look more than about 250 miles to the east. You see, by evidence of the league’s dealings with Comcast over the last few years, it has become obvious that Ed Snider runs the NHL. Whose team stands to benefit most from having the Pens play an inordinate number of games early, while Sidney Crosby is injured? Why, Ed Snider’s, of course. Funny how it isn’t his team with the brutal opening month schedule, isn’t it? Coincidence? You decide.

Thankfully, the Pens are surviving it just fine. Hopefully, they’ll start getting some injured players back. The schedule does ease up a little bit, with no more back to backs until November 11-12. Hopefully, the Pens will be healthier by then.