NHL Strength of Schedule could influence which teams make the playoffs

In those tight battles for playoff spots, the strength of a team's schedule could play a large role in determining whether they make it or not.

As we head into the final quarter of the 2010-11 NHL regular season, the scramble for playoff positioning is as tight as ever, particularly in the Western Conference. To what extent will the strength of schedule come into play for the contenders?

Building off the data in my NHL Super Schedule, and combining that with updated team-level metrics like goals/game, I put together a table reflecting the quality of each team's collection of opponents for the rest of the season. Just follow after the jump to take a look...

In the table below, you should be able to click any of the column headings and the table will re-sort based on that value (click again to switch between ascending/descending). The first 3 columns are the number of road, home, and back-to-back sets played by each team, and the rest of the columns refer to the average of their upcoming opponents. So, for example, the remaining opponents for Philadelphia have earned a combined 51.3% of possible points in the standings (the league-wide average is .557, thanks to those pesky OTL points).

Team  Road   Home   B2B   Avg Pts%   Avg G/G   Avg GA/G   Avg 5 on 5 GF/GA   Avg PP%   Avg PK%   Avg Shots/G   Avg SA/G 
 Anaheim Ducks 10 14 5 .575 2.80 2.72 1.05 18.8 81.5 29.8 29.7
 Atlanta Thrashers 12 11 3 .543 2.73 2.74 1.01 17.0 82.7 30.8 30.6
 Boston Bruins 13 11 5 .523 2.66 2.84 0.94 17.6 81.8 30.3 30.0
 Buffalo Sabres 12 14 8 .555 2.74 2.77 0.99 17.3 82.0 30.6 30.7
 Carolina Hurricanes 8 16 9 .551 2.78 2.86 0.98 18.2 82.2 31.3 30.2
 Columbus Blue Jackets 13 12 5 .568 2.79 2.70 1.06 17.9 82.0 30.3 30.3
 Calgary Flames 10 12 3 .563 2.79 2.76 1.03 18.7 81.0 30.3 30.6
 Chicago Blackhawks 14 11 7 .583 2.81 2.75 1.03 17.8 82.2 30.9 30.4
 Colorado Avalanche 14 9 5 .547 2.69 2.76 0.99 17.7 80.8 29.0 30.6
 Dallas Stars 13 11 3 .584 2.79 2.68 1.04 19.4 82.1 30.2 30.2
 Detroit Red Wings 13 12 5 .566 2.75 2.68 1.03 18.6 81.9 30.1 30.2
 Edmonton Oilers 13 11 3 .582 2.86 2.74 1.07 18.4 82.0 30.2 30.4
 Florida Panthers 13 13 4 .546 2.76 2.87 0.96 18.4 82.0 30.9 30.1
 Los Angeles Kings 10 14 2 .576 2.83 2.81 1.01 19.7 81.0 29.8 31.1
 Minnesota Wild 12 13 6 .556 2.80 2.82 1.00 18.6 81.0 30.0 30.4
 Montreal Canadiens 14 9 2 .554 2.78 2.78 1.01 18.2 81.7 30.8 30.6
 New Jersey Devils 13 12 7 .547 2.77 2.82 0.99 17.8 82.3 30.8 30.8
 Nashville Predators 9 15 3 .564 2.85 2.84 1.05 18.6 80.4 30.3 30.7
 New York Islanders 11 13 7 .562 2.75 2.68 1.03 16.8 82.7 30.6 30.3
 New York Rangers 11 12 4 .551 2.76 2.78 1.00 18.1 82.5 31.0 30.7
 Ottawa Senators 13 12 5 .562 2.79 2.73 1.04 17.3 82.5 31.4 30.6
 Philadelphia Flyers 13 12 4 .513 2.69 2.88 0.94 17.3 81.3 30.1 31.1
 Phoenix Coyotes 12 11 3 .586 2.86 2.73 1.06 19.3 81.4 30.7 29.7
 Pittsburgh Penguins 13 10 6 .533 2.71 2.81 0.98 17.3 81.7 30.9 30.3
 San Jose Sharks 9 14 4 .588 2.85 2.73 1.06 19.1 81.5 29.8 30.4
 St. Louis Blues 15 11 6 .561 2.81 2.80 1.02 18.6 81.3 30.2 30.3
 Tampa Bay Lightning 12 12 5 .519 2.65 2.79 0.95 17.5 82.2 30.6 30.8
 Toronto Maple Leafs 12 12 4 .554 2.81 2.80 1.02 18.3 82.4 31.2 30.7
 Vancouver Canucks 11 12 1 .559 2.74 2.76 1.03 17.4 81.2 29.7 30.6
 Washington Capitals 13 10 6 .530 2.73 2.85 0.96 17.1 82.1 30.8 30.6

So who do you think has it hard on their way to the playoffs? The Chicago Blackhawks will have their work cut out for them, with 7 back-to-back sets along with a combined Points Percentage against of .583. Or how about Los Angeles? Will Jonathan Quick be able to keep them in the hunt, as the Kings take on teams with a combined 31.1 shots per game?

How does this picture look for your favorite team? The Nashville Predators, for example, may find some hope in the fact that their opponents sport a combined 80.4% PK, the worst in the league. Could that help alleviate what has been another disappointing season on the power play?

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