Last night data visualizer extraordinaire Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath on Twitter) released a chart that documents how the NHL schedule advantages and disadvantages teams, based on when the most recent games played by the teams involved are. Here's the chart in all its glory:
The chart tracks schedule wins and losses, as well as games where both teams are rested or playing on the second leg of a back-to-back. The blue games are schedule wins, meaning the team faces an opponent that is playing on the second half of a back-to-back. The red games are schedule losses, meaning the team is on the second half of a back-to-back and faces a rested opponent. The yellow games are ones here both teams are rested with two or more days off, while the black games are ones where both are playing on the second end of a back-to-back.
Lets take a look at how things chart out for the Pacific Division, and then look and see what benefits or hurdles the schedule has for the Ducks in division, sorted by schedule win/loss differential.
|Team||Schedule W's||Schedule L's||Differential||Both Rested||Both Tired|
While the schedule makers were nice to the Ducks in slotting them with the second fewest schedule losses in the division, they also penned Anaheim for the second fewest schedule wins. Only one of the playoff teams from last season has more built in games over .500 ('Differential' in the chart) than the Ducks, but they'll have to make up a total of nine additional built in games over .500 between the three teams above them.
The Kings 16 schedule wins are the most in the league, while the Oilers +7 differential is also the highest league-wide. The Sharks have the most games in the league where both teams come in rested, as well as the greatest differential in rested vs tired games.
We did some additional figuring of the league highs and lows last night right after the chart was released:
NSH has fewest sked Ws w/ 4, while LA has most w/ 16. SJ has 10. DET has most sked Ls w/ 14, while EDM+WAS have fewest w/ 7. LA+SJ have 11.— Anaheim Calling (@AnaheimCalling) August 6, 2015
One certainly has to feel that it'd take a major implosion by Los Angeles to miss the playoffs for a second year in a row having a built in five games over .500. Perhaps even more intriguing is Connor McDavid and Edmonton having the league high for built in games over .500. For so many seasons we've seen people seduced by the young talent of the Oilers and projecting "surely this is the breakout year"; Edmonton certainly has plenty of help from the schedule this season that may finally boost them into the discussion.
The west coast swing always makes for interesting scheduling issues for the league. The Ducks will have some ground to make up in the division schedule-wise, but it's the team that plays the schedule and not the other way around. Just something hockey to chew on in early August...