Gus Katsaros

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NHL Scheduling Sets

Monday, January 30, 2012

Before the season begins, in the period between the publication of our flagship McKeen's Hockey Pool Yearbook and the onset of the exhibition season, I like to do my schedule analysis. I'll break down a majority of individual categories with significant impact to various NHL teams.

The first breakdown is tracking all teams that play on consecutive nights, back-to-back (or B2B). This is tracked on the Nashville blog On the Forecheck On The Forecheck including mileage and other components contained in his annual NHL Super Schedule.

I go a bit further. Breaking down each B2B set are games where teams are playing the second night versus a rested team that has not played the night before. Starting with the explanation and detailed explanation here: B2B Analysis

The results tabulated and kept on a weekly basis are here: NHL B2B Results

The breakdown can be significant.


For example - and quite possibly a solid reason as to why the NHL players union nixed the proposed realignment - the Toronto Maple Leafs face the Ottawa Senators 5 of 6 games as a rested team where the Senators play the night before. The relationship isn't only affected by the number of head-to-head matches, but as was the case of the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames only a few weeks ago. Calgary played three teams who had all played against the Vancouver Canucks the night before and traveled to Calgary. Only a couple of short weeks later, a rested Oilers club faced three teams that had played the Flames the night before.

While this example highlights the Northwest, every division has this issue. Los Angeles and Anaheim, in the Pacific, the New York area teams in the Atlantic and the Florida clubs, Tampa Bay and the Panthers have a poriximity to each other to allow for a multiple of these situations determine some element of collective playoff fate within the division.

Factors such as this may not seem like an issue, but they are; especially in the tight, parity-driven NHL. These factors would amplify the concern, determining playoff revenues through realignment and solely based on divisional standings. This scheduling quirk doesn't balance itself by division and travel and venue accomodation plays a significant role as a bystander of sorts.

As another example, the NHL's newest darling, the Winnipeg Jets.


They face a tired team 17 time in 2011-12. Up to the All Star break, they had already played 11 of those games, sporting a record of 10-0-0-1. Out of their 22 wins, 10 have come on the heals of a tired team playing on B2B nights. The rest of their division have collectively played 19 games as a rested team, sporting a collective 12-5 record. The Jets currently sit in 10th place with 50 points and an illusion of competitiveness brought on by a scheduling quirk.


Going even further into the scheduling abyss is the number of sets for each team. I total the amount of 3-games-in-4-nights sets and by extension the number of 4-in-6 sets that grind teams through travel and bunched up games. The last of the troika is the number of home-and-homes.

This is all listed here NHL Team Sets with some interesting results. For example, the amount of travel by the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference, is a tad overblown in terms of the number of bunched up sets of games. The Red Wings play the least number of 3-in-4 sets (6) and only have 1 4-in-6 set in 2011-12.


What this means is that they are playing more games regularly spread out in more balanced intervals instead of bunching up games and taking time off in between. There's an advantage here where they can maintain momentum of a winning formula, or quickly get back to another game erasing the memory of an under-par effort after a loss. It doesn't give the club much time to rest bumps and bruises attained along the way and doesn't give enough time bewteen games to sometimes recuperate properly. Contrast that with Minnesota playing eight 4-in-6 sets or Columbus and Chicago with 15 3-in-4 sets.

Below is a breakdown of the number of sets already played through 16 weeks of the NHL season, and what the landscape looks like down the stretch towards the end of the season in the remaining 11 weeks.



First 16 weeks     Final 10 Weeks
Team 3-in-4 4-in-6 H&H     Team 3-in-4 4-in-6 H&H
ANA 5 3 1     ANA 6 3 0
BOS 5 3 2     BOS 7 4 1
BUF 8 1 2     BUF 5 2 1
CAR 7 2 0     CAR 4 0 0
CBJ 8 1 1     CBJ 7 2 3
CGY 5 4 0     CGY 4 2 2
CHI 10 1 3     CHI 5 1 2
COL 5 2 3     COL 3 3 1
DAL 6 1 3     DAL 6 3 2
DET 5 1 1     DET 1 0 1
EDM 10 4 0     EDM 3 1 0
FLA 6 1 2     FLA 7 2 0
LAK 5 3 1     LAK 5 2 1
MIN 5 5 1     MIN 5 3 1
MTL 7 2 1     MTL 4 1 1
NJD 5 0 3     NJD 5 2 2
NSH 4 2 1     NSH 3 2 0
NYI 4 1 3     NYI 6 3 3
NYR 5 2 0     NYR 6 2 0
OTT 9 4 1     OTT 4 0 1
PHI 6 3 1     PHI 5 4 1
PHX 8 3 0     PHX 4 2 0
PIT 6 3 1     PIT 5 3 2
SJS 8 3 2     SJS 6 4 2
STL 4 1 0     STL 6 3 1
TBL 4 2 3     TBL 4 4 0
TOR 7 2 3     TOR 3 1 2
VAN 6 4 0     VAN 4 2 0
WPG 8 3 0     WPG 5 2 0
WSH 3 1 1     WSH 6 1 0
Average 6.13 2.27 1.33     Average 4.80 2.13 1.00


Gus Katsaros is the Pro Scouting Coordinator with McKeen’s Hockey, publishers of industry leading scouting and fantasy guide, the McKeen’s Annual Hockey Pool Yearbook. He also contributes to popular blog ... he can be followed on Twitter @KatsHockey
Email :Gus Katsaros

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