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Which team has the toughest post-All-Star schedule?

Jan 31, 2012, 3:35 PM EDT

Phoenix Coyotes v Nashville Predators Getty Images

Interesting tidbit here from Elias Sports Bureau (by way of ESPN’s Cross Checks Blog):

The second half of the NHL season begins tonight with 13 games on the schedule. The NHL teams with the toughest remaining schedule (based on the combined points percentage of its remaining opponents) are Nashville (.596), Chicago (.586), New Jersey (.583), Columbus (.576) and Buffalo (.575).

The NHL teams with the easiest remaining schedule are Florida (.532), St. Louis (.541), Colorado (.542), San Jose (.543) and Vancouver (.543).

Not only do the Blackhawks have the second-toughest remaining schedule, they also have 20 road games to play, tying them with Los Angeles and St. Louis for the NHL high.

Other points worth noting:

–  Adding to Chicago’s nightmarish second half is that those road games come in big chunks. The ‘Hawks begin a nine-game, 20-day road trip Tuesday night in Vancouver; from Feb. 25 to Mar. 6, they play five of six on the road in L.A., Anaheim, Ottawa, Detroit and St. Louis. Chicago also finishes the year with two road dates in Minnesota and Detroit.

– On the other end of the spectrum: Florida. From Mar. 3 to 25, the Panthers will play eight of 12 at the BankAtlantic Center, where they’ve posted a tidy 11-5-7 record. Florida is tied with the New York Rangers for the fewest regulation losses at home this season in the Eastern Conference.

– Columbus has the fourth-toughest schedule, and that’s just sad. See, the BJs are in serious danger of matching a franchise record for fewest wins in a season (2001-02, 22 wins.) Columbus has 13 victories right now, meaning they’ll need at 10 more to avoid being lumped in with the 2001-02 team, a collection of hockey talent that included immortals like Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, Sean Pronger and Radim Bicanek.

  1. elvispocomo - Jan 31, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    Vancouver has a chance to improve and let any new players mesh in while doing it with an easier schedule than their first half. Not bad for one of the top teams in the NHL and possibly the others fall off a bit if they try and improve with tougher schedules.

    • velocirapist - Jan 31, 2012 at 4:29 PM

      The joys of the Northwest Division!

      • elvispocomo - Jan 31, 2012 at 5:56 PM

        It wasn’t always that way, the NW used to be the toughest around when Colorado, Edmonton, Calgary and Minnesota were all much better. At that time the Central was weak, with Chicago not very good, Nashville not having a dominant defensive pairing, St Louis struggling, and Columbus being, well, Columbus.

        Detroit had it easier then, and now Vancouver does somewhat, although they played the tougher part of their schedule in the first half when Minnesota, Colorado and even Edmonton to a point were playing much better hockey to start the year.

      • elvispocomo - Jan 31, 2012 at 6:02 PM

        You could argue the Bruins have a similar quality of division but their schedule isn’t quite so forgiving as they’ve played less games in the first half. The Canucks played more games in the first half, and more on the road, which helps their schedule in the second half as much or more than the quality of competition.

      • dougcan - Jan 31, 2012 at 6:33 PM

        Hard to believe in the current NHL scoring system that the SE division almost has 3 teams under 500 hockey tho i hope the jets can bounce off the 500 mark i have my doubts.

        Boston indeed is in a soft division like the Nucks – NE Div has two teams under 500 every other division has only one team failing to make even 500 hockey.

        In the case of wins by the 4 other teams in the NW and NE – they total 91 between them in both divisions – so there are indeed great similarities between the relative weakness of both Boston and the Canucks divisions right now.

        Like elvis said tho I recall not too many seasons ago that the NW division was largely viewed as the toughest in the NHL – over time everything evens out for now its the Canucks who have time to make hay while the sun shines.

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