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Vulgar Statistics: Back to Backs, NHL Scheduling Hell

08/22/10
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Ah, the secheduling of back to back games.  Bane of NHL players and fans everywhere.  It’s rather impressive actually, since in the minds of fans, every team somehow seems to get a raw deal.

Today I focused my lens on the Northeast Division and those five teams in particular.  I split the column into two parts for the 09-10 season: what teams were dealt with in terms of the schedule, and what they did with it.  I also looked ahead to this season to see what we might be able to expect come October and beyond.

The 2009-2010 Season, Was it Fair?

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Of course it was!  The NHL makes no mistakes on these things (whispers to man in dark suit, “kill that kid”).  All views into Gary Bettman’s private life aside, we come to find that the spread was actually pretty well even.  If someone came out ahead in one category, they generally fell behind in another.

Buffalo:

They fell somewhere in the middle here.  A high number of back-to-backs, but several of those were both at HSBC arena.  They had a pretty even spread in every other category.  In a division where Boston was pretty much handed a turd sandwich, Buffalo got bologna.  Kind of gross, but you’ll eat it.  Unfortunately rather than eating that bologna sandwich, they tried to shove it in random orifices and got mustard on their pants.

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They did great in the first game, then generally pissed away the second.  Come on Buffalo, you go 1-1-2 when you don’t even have to leave your own building?

Boston:

If anyone got screwed, it was Boston.  They played eight nights back to back traveling to two opposing arenas and had only one of their second games in their fourteen total back-to-backs within the cozy confines of the TD Banknorth Garden.  If that wasn’t enough, they also had the most second games against fresh opponents of anyone in the division.

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They came out of it pretty even, other than an oddly good record against playoff bound opponents in their second game.  This is really what Buffalo’s records should have looked like.

Montreal:

Again, like Buffalo, the scheduling they got was unspectacular.  They did have the most second games at home, but they played a lot of fresh opponents in those second games.

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Other than strangely losing the only time they skated a roster full of un-travel-weary players, and four officials in blue and red (we all know it’s true), pretty ho-hum for Montreal.  If I look at this any longer my yawning is going to make my mouth bigger than Carey Price when…never mind, let’s move on.

Ottawa:

If you want to hate Ottawa (never too late to start!), this will give you a fair bit of ammo.  They played the fewest back-to-backs of any team in the division.  Though at the same time, they also played the second most fresh opponents on the second night.  But they also played a ton of their second games at home.  How did that affect them?  It didn’t.

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Undefeated when their second game was at home.  That pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?  Kudos on taking a fairly easy schedule and playing it like a fiddle Ottawa.

Toronto:

Ah, the most back-to-backs in the division, and zero of them happened to be played only at the Air Canada Centre.  No one’s weeping for you Toronto.  If there was any consolation, they did play a lot of weary opponents in that second game.

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The funny thing is, the leafs actually played worse when the cards were in their favor.  Playing a non-playoff team…no wins!  Playing a tired opponent…one win!  Not that they played particularly well to begin with.

So What’s in store for 2010-2011?

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Yikes.  Thanks NHL.  At least we, once again, get the most double-home back-to-backs, but the rest of that does not look friendly.  How does Ottawa manage to play a crap ton of those second games at home again?  Jesus Christ.  Ah well, as I said, the schedule is only half of the equation.  It’s what you do with it that matters.

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