NHL clubs already struggling with back-to-backs

NHL clubs already struggling with back-to-backs
January 28, 2013, 9:00 am
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We are just over a week into this compact NHL season and it is very obvious that conditioning is going to be a key for the next three months. Forty-eight games in 99 days is as demanding a schedule I have ever seen in sports. Check these numbers out:

Nine times this season, the Flyers play back-to-back games and they have failed miserably -- twice -- in their second losing 5-2 at Buffalo last week and 5-1 at Tampa on Sunday. But the Flyers are not alone in their back-to-back struggles. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the league has combined for a 9-16-1 record in the second game of a back-to-back, a stat that Sunday's Flyers loss epitomizes.

There is virtually no time between games all season. The Flyers have two or more days off between games only 10 times all season. So if a player gets injured, he is likely to miss more games than in the past.

Michael Leighton is the Flyers' backup goalie and he made his first start since Dec. 30, 2010 on Sunday, giving Ilya Bryzgalov his first rest of the season. Peter Laviolette's handling of his goalie's minutes will be critical as the season goes on -- much more than in past years.

The Flyers are back at it on Tuesday versus the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, closing out a four-game road trip.

This has been a very difficult start for the Flyers, and the schedule doesn't figure to get any easier.