Schedules: Leafs Middle Out; Sharks/Bruins Struggle?


    Last season in a draft, I chose Evgeni Nabokov for an H2H league organized by James Mirtle. It seemed early, but I had reasons. To win in fantasy GMs must find an edge using unconventional analysis and strategy.

    That’s what I try to do.

    Facts don’t lie and I liked Nabokov (and Backstrom from Minnesota) better than any goalie last season. It’s also why Tim Thomas ranked higher. This season both Nabby and Thomas weren’t ranked as high. Maybe the Bruins and Sharks struggle this season.

    Why? Find out here.

    Part of prep for fantasy leagues prior to each season is analysis to give GM’s the edge in every type of league. Fantasy is player-centric but good GM’s will explore other factors to make lists, prepare for drafts and develop seasonal strategies.

    Like schedules.

    Want an edge — especially in head-to-head leagues? Look at schedules where the league’s playoffs would likely occur. Note how many games teams play in a week. This affects decisions with rankings and perhaps targets at the deadline with a games advantage come playoff time. Rotisseries leagues have this advantage in tight, close races as the season winds down. Standout GM’s will prosper when it matters most … playoff time or down the stretch.

    But this write-up isn’t about fantasy; it’s about reality.

    I do schedule analysis mainly for goaltending purposes. Standard analysis looks at back-to-back games, home stands and road trips. I like looking at games played by teams on consecutive nights.

    As if Stanley Cup Finalists, Pittsburgh and Detroit needed any more help, that which aids Pittsburgh can be a negative element in San Jose. Regular season dominance may fade on the West Coast this season, and its not just about stripping Marleau of the ‘C’.

    Games On Consecutive Nights

    In 2008-09, the San Jose Sharks held on for a one point President’s Trophy win over the Bruins for regular season dominance.

    Boston played opponents that played the night before 16 times sporting a record of 14-2 last season. Missing out on a possible four points that would have crowned them President Trophy winners.

    The Sharks faced opposition that played the night before in a league high 20 games (tied with Minnesota) sporting a stellar record of 16-2-2 record. Wondering now why maybe Evgeni Nabokov (41 wins) and Niklas Backstrom (37 wins) had such fantastic seasons? When they play almost 25% of their season against opposition playing consecutive games.

    Last season, Pittsburgh played the second most (19 games) against opposition who played the night before, sporting a record of 12-4-3.

    Switching the focus to this upcoming season, the Penguins lead the NHL with 17 games played against competition that played the night before. This figure includes three games versus the divisional rivals Flyers (which could be the difference between a Division/Conference title) and two games against Toronto.

    Detroit ranks second with 15 games (twice against the Sharks) and once against Toronto.

    The first/second seeds from 2008-09, Boston and San Jose, have only 7 games this season (down from 16 for Boston and 20 for San Jose). Bringing up the bottom of the pack are Colorado, Montreal and Nashville with six games against competition that played the night before.

    The Toronto Maple Leafs play teams with games the night before nine times this season (Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, NJ, NYIslanders, NYRangers, Washington (2), TB), with seven being at home. Last season they were 7-4-1 in these games, while drawing the Canadiens four times when the Habs had played the night before (2-2 record).

    The Penguins face the Flyers three times when Philadelphia played the night before .. The Devils draw Pittsburgh three times when the Pens played the night before .. Carolina draws the Devils three times when NJ played the night before .. Phoenix draws San Jose three times .. Dallas faces the Coyotes three times when the Desert Dogs play the night before.

    Conversely, hurt most by facing opposition in games on consecutive nights are the Devils with 16 games. The Bruins (13) are second and Chicago, Colorado and the Islanders have 12 for third.

    Atlanta, faces the opposition only seven times in 2009-10 with games the previous night, while Detroit, Edmonton, NYRangers, and Lightning are tied with eight. With a playoff spot in mind, these games can create critical points needed to fend off teams in a stretch run. These are games that should be wins, and good teams take advantage.

    The Leafs face rested teams in games on consecutive nights 10 times (Boston, Detroit, Montreal, Ottawa, Philadelphia (2), Pittsburgh (2), Vancouver, Washington).


    Three-games in four nights: 8 times
    Four-games in six nights: 5 times
    Home-and-Home: (1) Devils in February.
    Back-to-Back: 18 (second highest in the NHL (tied with Buffalo, Florida, St. Louis) — up from 13 in ’08-09
    Opposition playing the night before: 9 (Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, NJ, NYIslanders, NYRangers, Washington (2), TB)
    Facing the opposition when playing the night before: 10 (Boston, Detroit, Montreal, Ottawa, Philadelphia (2), Pittsburgh (2), Vancouver, Washington)

    With so many back-to-back games, I am guessing Jonas Gustavsson get his first game possibly around October 12 or 13, Game 5 or 6 in the schedule. The issue now becomes, how does the coaching staff handle these games, especially in importance. If there is a 60-20 split in games played between goaltenders, how many will the Monster see in situations where they play consecutive nights?