NHL playoff chase difficult for Calgary & Dallas, easier for Ottawa & Montreal

As NHL play resumes tonight after the lengthy Olympic break, all eyes are focused on the road to the playoffs, since so many teams are bunched tightly together in both the Eastern and Western conferences.

But which teams have a more difficult road than others? Below, I leveraged the NHL Super Schedule to figure that out...

The table below includes many of the main factors which describe the difficulty of a team's schedule. A good part of the variance that you'll see in the Average Opponent Winning % is the fact that the Western Conference is much stronger than the East, but if you make some side-by-side comparisons of teams battling for playoff position, the differences jump out:

Team Games Home Road Avg Opp Win % Avg Opp 5 on 5 GF/GA Back-To-Back Sets Total Mileage
 Anaheim Ducks 20 12 8 .516 1.03 4 10,592
 Atlanta Thrashers 22 14 8 .488 1.02 5 7,216
 Boston Bruins 22 9 13 .480 1.02 4 7,912
 Buffalo Sabres 22 9 13 .474 0.97 6 6,049
 Calgary Flames 20 9 11 .549 1.10 2 16,104
 Carolina Hurricanes 21 10 11 .510 1.05 4 8,864
 Chicago Blackhawks 21 10 11 .506 1.01 5 13,072
 Colorado Avalanche 21 11 10 .529 1.07 5 11,028
 Columbus Blue Jackets 19 10 9 .518 1.05 3 7,839
 Dallas Stars 21 12 9 .557 1.09 2 9,712
 Detroit Red Wings 21 12 9 .506 1.02 3 9,289
 Edmonton Oilers 21 9 12 .517 1.01 4 14,420
 Florida Panthers 21 11 10 .508 1.02 4 12,957
 Los Angeles Kings 21 11 10 .512 1.01 3 15,530
 Minnesota Wild 21 10 11 .490 1.02 4 10,566
 Montreal Canadiens 19 9 10 .465 0.96 3 9,656
 Nashville Predators 21 12 9 .499 1.00 4 11,590
 New Jersey Devils 21 11 10 .467 0.97 5 10,143
 New York Islanders 20 11 9 .514 1.02 4 9,453
 New York Rangers 20 8 12 .489 1.00 4 6,381
 Ottawa Senators 19 7 12 .449 0.99 2 13,689
 Philadelphia Flyers 22 10 12 .469 0.97 5 8,025
 Phoenix Coyotes 19 8 11 .520 1.06 4 11,888
 Pittsburgh Penguins 20 10 10 .476 1.00 5 6,142
 San Jose Sharks 20 10 10 .504 1.03 3 13,805
 St. Louis Blues 20 8 12 .511 0.99 4 10,008
 Tampa Bay Lightning 21 11 10 .496 1.05 4 8,900
 Toronto Maple Leafs 21 12 9 .472 0.94 4 5,614
 Vancouver Canucks 21 10 11 .529 1.04 5 13,664
 Washington Capitals 20 12 8 .468 0.95 3 6,643

Take, for example, the teams in the #8-10 spots in the West (Calgary, Dallas and Detroit). Other than having to play one more back-to-back set, the Red Wings have a significantly easier remaining schedule.

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