With schedules that spread out three games on average each week, teams have different lead-ins to their head-to-head matchups. The most striking contrast is when one team enters a game having played the night before in another city while its opponent is rested.
Tonight's game in Nashville will be the third time this season that the Detroit Red Wings played on a second consecutive night.
Detroit entered the game with a 0-2-0 record in such contests with a 21-4-2 mark in all other games. Last season, the Red Wings were 4-7-4 in the tail end of back-to-back games and 46-12-9 in all other games.
"Not a lot of players like it," said Detroit's Jiri Hudler of back-to-back games. "When you get that first good shift in though, you feel OK. A couple of shots, start skating, you're ready to go."
Detroit has 14 sets of back-to-back games this season. All 14 include travel between games with none being back-to-back games at Joe Louis Arena.
Detroit has already caught nine opponents on their second game in two nights. Those teams have gone 2-3-0 against the Red Wings with one of those wins coming in a game in which Detroit was also playing its second game in two nights.
This season, Detroit will catch nine opponents on the tail end of back-to-back games, five fewer couplets than the Red Wings have.
"You don't have the same amount of energy, but it's more in your head, I think," said Red Wing Johan Franzen. "You tell yourself that you're feeling good and you're going to play OK."
Some players like Franzen ease up a little in the morning skate the day of a second consecutive game to conserve energy. Others like Brett Lebda shy away from changing their routine.
"I know some guys do, but. I try not to," said Lebda. "I don't mind it. You get in a little rhythm. Sometimes when you get a few days off, it's not the same, especially when you're on a winning streak. Playing back-to-back … you don't want to do it all the time, but I think once in a while is good. Going back-to-back with one at home then one on the road, that's tough. If you have back-to-back at home, it's a little easier."
Lebda played in a different sort of schedule rhythm in college where groups of games were contested on the weekend with weekdays left mostly for practices.
College players, who get in about 35 games per season, have to adjust to professional schedules, especially in the minor leagues. Teams like Grand Rapids not only play during the week, but on occasion will play three games in three nights.
"The first year I was in Grand Rapids, I hit a wall about Game 40 or 50," said Lebda. "Just playing every other day (in the pros) and especially playing three (games) in three (days) in the minors … that's the toughest. I think playing that first year helped me prepare for here more than college helped me to make the next step. Here, you've just got to be ready every day."