Last season I did a very similar piece analsying which of the three Western Canadian teams is “luckiest” to play teams who are on the second half of back-to-backs on a road trip.
Last year the Oilers benefitted the most, facing tired teams 12 times while facing fresh teams only 8 times. The Flames were the worst off, facing fresh teams 13 times while playing tired teams 9 times. Vancouver faced fresh and tired teams four times each.
Pretty much every NHL team, especially the ones in the Eastern Conference, make their road trips to Western Canada in one swoop, so they don’t have to return to the frozen wasteland tundra that is Western Canadian winters.
As a result, the Flames, Oilers, and Canucks often play teams on back-to-back games and if one of those three teams wins, the other two fanbases love to come crawling out and say “Oh yeah, we tired them out for you!” or “You only won because they were playing their backup since we played their starter last night” yadda yadda yadda.
So let’s look at who plays the most on the first and second half of other team’s back-to-backs and from that, we should be able to gather who has it the worst.
Just a quick few notes for the table below:
Games vs “Fresh” Team: Calgary 10, Edmonton 5, Vancouver 4
Games vs “Tired” Team: Edmonton 10, Vancouver 6, Calgary 3
So the Flames are playing the fresh team seven more times than they’re playing the tired teams this season which is pretty tough. Edmonton faces tired teams five more times than they face fresh teams, while Vancouver gets a couple more games against tired teams than fresh.
Does this actually matter though???
In the 25 back-to-back situations last season, the three Canadian teams combined to go 11-12-2 on the first night against their opponents. On the second night, the three teams were a combined 16-7-2 against their opponents.
With Vancouver removed from the equation, Calgary and Edmonton were 9-10-2 on the first night and 14-6-1 on the second night.
That’s a nine point swing based on who had the second half of the back-to-back which was more often Edmonton. So as expected there is some legitimate benefit to facing the tired team.
Edmonton has a big edge in that category again this year so it’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out by year end. The Flames will be facing the fresher team much more often, so it’ll be a tougher challenge for them.
by Michael MacGillivray