August 09, 2010
Dirk Hoag of On The Forecheck does a public service to puckheads each offseason by deconstructing the NHL regular-season schedule to expose its inequities for certain teams: From travel distance to the number of back-to-back games they must play.
The rigors of the schedule give an obvious advantage to the rested, and Hoag has a great piece today that further explores which NHL teams have the greatest advantage when it comes to playing exhausted teams in the second game of back-to-back nights vs. being the exhausted team themselves:
Teams in general enjoy a Points Percentage of roughly .560 (.500 isn't average anymore thanks to the OT "loser" point), but that Points Percentage drops by about .050 for teams which have already played a game the night before. Some back-to-back sets are particularly tough when you toss in two elite opponents, or a long flight between games.
This then leads to a double-edged question - not just which teams play the most and least B2B sets, but also, which teams will face the most opponents who are playing on the back end of a B2B set?
A glimpse at the Top 5 for teams on the plus-side of that ratio, via On The Forecheck:
The Florida Panthers not only face the most teams playing for a second consecutive day (24), but are right in the middle of the pack for playing back-to-back games themselves. The Philadelphia Flyers (21 games against B2B opponents), Dallas Stars (17), San Jose Sharks (19) and Washington Capitals (20) all enjoy an advantage as well, though not at Florida's level.
At the bottom of the list? The Atlanta Thrashers and Buffalo Sabres are both at a minus-7, with the Thrashers the only team in the NHL to face less than 10 teams on the back end of back-to-back games (8). The Sabres, meanwhile, play the most back-to-back games in the NHL with 22, one ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes (21).
Great stuff from OTF, as usual. The Panthers, incidentally, will have played 10 of their 15 back-to-back series by the end of January and have just two in March. You know, thinking about that Southeast playoff run and all ...