Phoenix Coyotes v Nashville Predators

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


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.

Kane scores OT-winner, caps Islanders’ bumpy start in Brooklyn

Patrick Kane

On paper, it’s the perfect way to kick off meaningful hockey in Brooklyn, as the New York Islanders faced the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

In reality, there were some highs and lows, culminating with Patrick Kane scoring a power-play overtime-winner to give Chicago a 3-2 (OT) win.

The Barclays Center crowd was going to be a big part of the story one way or another, but even by building-opening standards, the audience made some waves.

Indeed, Kane was greeted with some jeers during his first road appearance of the 2015-16 season, though he didn’t sound surprised.

(There were other controversial chants, apparently.)

Speaking of the crowd, it may not have been the greatest turnout:

ESPN goes way, way in depth on how the change of locale was received, by the way.

It wasn’t a perfect night inside the rink, either, as there weren’t exactly rave reviews about ice quality. New York Newsday’s Arthur Staple compared the ice to a “slushy” and “soup,” with an anonymous Islander (or Islanders) describing the conditions as “awful.”

Kane was pretty diplomatic about it, for what it’s worth.


So, no, it was not a perfect night for the Islanders.

They probably envisioned a teeming, perfectly mannered crowd. Management likely expected Jaroslav Halak to be in net, too.

Sometimes breaking ground is often about overcoming those early stumbles, though, and maybe the best review is to parallel the on-ice results: the Isles at least got a point out of it.

Let’s not forget that there are some cool perks that come with this situation, even if the specifics may vary.

If you want even more information/photos/etc., you’d probably do well to check out #IslesOpeningNight.

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

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For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.