A conversation this morning with Alec Brownscome of Maple Leafs Hot Stove prompted me to revisit some work I do each summer, compiling the NHL Super Schedule which focuses mostly on travel mileage and the number of back-to-back games played by each team in the league.
Once we bring into consideration the relative strength of the opponents each teams has faced so far, and what remains on their schedule, we can get some insight on which teams have an easier or more difficult road to the Stanley Cup playoffs. As it turns out, the Preds might have the toughest slate of remaining opponents in the entire league,
The table below lays out the travel mileage, number of back-to-back sets (pairs of games played on consecutive nights) and Average Opponent Winning Percentage for each team, broken down by the games they've played so far, and what remains on the schedule. You can click on any column header to re-sort the table by that value.
|Team||Games Played||Miles Traveled||Bk-to-Bk Sets||Avg Opp Win%||Games Remaining||Miles To Go||Bk-to-Bk Sets||Avg Opp Win%|
|New York Islanders||31||14,166||2||.543||51||18,244||11||.502|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||33||14,368||5||.536||49||28,463||11||.517|
|Los Angeles Kings||33||24,431||5||.526||49||31,160||10||.494|
|San Jose Sharks||30||15,382||5||.523||52||28,612||9||.483|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||33||12,657||6||.507||49||19,582||11||.495|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||32||16,983||3||.505||50||26,734||7||.491|
|St. Louis Blues||32||15,752||6||.499||50||23,029||11||.497|
|Detroit Red Wings||32||16,617||6||.486||50||26,248||8||.504|
|New Jersey Devils||33||16,970||8||.485||49||11,627||7||.511|
|New York Rangers||31||23,324||4||.461||51||13,061||10||.514|
Note 1: I'm using Average Winning Percentage here, not Points Percentage. In terms of how strong teams are, I don't care whether they are able to lose in OT vs. regulation, I'm only looking at Wins & Losses.
Note 2: If you want to reference this info on your own site, feel free to copy & paste this table into your own post, I just request a link back here noting where you got it from. You'll want to sort it the way you like before copying, I'm not sure if that magic will follow the data.
For the Predators, that .525 average opponents' winning percentage could account for something around 2.5 points in the standings when compared to playing against an average (.500) schedule. As we've seen in years past, that can easily be the margin between making the playoffs and not.
Around the NHL, there are some other items of note, however. The San Jose Sharks may have the added bonus of a relatively soft schedule to help them overtake Dallas for the Pacific Division lead (to go along with their much stronger fundamental metrics), while the New York Rangers will face the biggest difference in their past vs. future schedule (going from an average opponents' win % of .461 to .514). The Blueshirts also have 10 sets of back-to-back games on their schedule, after playing in just 4 so far.
So how do you think the strength of schedule might impact the playoff chase in either conference?