The NBA schedule came out Monday, and the NHL schedule is already out. That means my yearly obsession with comparing the Timberwolves and Wild schedules is in full swing. I will now attempt to transform a bunch of notes, circles and scribbles into some coherent information you can use.
• Let's start with some good news: After the Wolves and Wild played on the same date a whopping 41 times last season — yes, that's half the schedule in both the NBA and NHL — things are quite a bit better for fans of both teams who don't want to have to choose which one to watch on a given night. This year, they have 11 fewer shared dates than last year and three fewer than two seasons ago.
Of those 30 shared dates, 11 of them are home games for both teams while 19 involve one or both of them being on the road. But of those 11 shared home dates, the Wild plays in the afternoon twice while the Wolves have night games: Nov. 24, which is the Friday after Thanksgiving (Colorado at Wild, 3 p.m.; Miami at Wolves, 7 p.m.) and Saturday, Dec. 16 (Edmonton at Wild, 2 p.m.; Phoenix at Wolves, 7 p.m.). Go ahead and try a day-night doubleheader.
• Back-to-back: The NBA will start its season earlier this year, eliminating the dreaded four games in five nights and reducing back-to-backs. The Wolves, however, have 15 back-to-backs this season compared to 14 last year. That said, 15 is a common number this year and 14 was low for last year. The Wild also has 15 back-to-backs this season.
• Road trip: There are a couple of good options for dual getaways this season. The Wild (vs. the Kings) and Wolves (vs. the Clippers) play in Los Angeles on back-to-back nights on Dec. 5 and 6 (Tuesday-Wednesday), followed by a Wild game at Anaheim on Dec. 8 (Friday). And later in the season, there's this on April 4, 5 and 6 (Wednesday through Friday): Wild at Anaheim, Wild at Kings, Wolves at Lakers.
• Circle your calendar: Here are five interesting games for each team:
Wolves: Oct. 20 vs. Utah (home opener, Ricky Rubio's return); Nov. 15 vs. San Antonio (good early test vs. perennial Western Conference contender); Jan. 8 vs. Cleveland (only home game vs. LeBron James and maybe Kyrie Irving); Feb. 9 at Chicago (Jimmy Butler's first game back in Chicago vs. the Bulls); March 11 vs. Warriors (only home game this season vs. Golden State).
Wild: Oct. 28 vs. Pittsburgh (only visit from defending Stanley Cup champs); Nov. 4 vs. Chicago (first home game against rival Blackhawks); Nov. 25 at St. Louis (first game against the Mike Yeo-coached team that knocked Minnesota out of the playoffs last year); Dec. 14 vs. Toronto (only visit from fun, young East team); Dec. 16 vs. Edmonton (up-and-coming, exciting team in the West).
• Season-defining date: On Jan. 10, around the midpoint of both the Wolves and Wild seasons, the Wolves are home vs. Oklahoma City and the Wild plays at Chicago. The outcomes won't make or break their seasons, but each should be good a measuring stick and marker of progress for teams with playoff aspirations. Remember, the Wolves and Wild have made the playoffs in the same year only once in their dual history: the 2002-03 season.