Tag: homestands

Antti Niemi, Brandon Dubinsky

Rangers’ first home win leaves only blemish on Sharks’ impressive road trip


Halloween night was shaping up to look awfully scary for the New York Rangers. After losing their belated home opener to the Toronto Maple Leafs, John Tortorella’s crew hosted the fat and happy San Jose Sharks, who were perfect in the first five contests in their six-game road trip.

Maybe there’s some symmetry to the fact that the Rangers finally showed the “hunger” to win against top-flight teams, then, as they beat the Sharks 5-2.

With a great all-around effort, the Blueshirts generated two important firsts:

1. They won their first home game of the 2011-12 season.

2. The Rangers out-shot their opponents for the first time, by a count of 31-26.

That last tidbit is far more important than the first one since this was just their third game at MSG. Even with Brad Richards in the fold, the Rangers aren’t going to be more talented than most of their playoff-caliber opponents, so that means they’ll need to outwork them like last season.

Promising signs against a tough opponent

Shots aren’t everything, but they’re often a half-decent barometer for each teams’ efforts, so it is a promising sign to see the Rangers finally win that battle. It’s even more impressive that they curtailed the Sharks’ shot-happy offense, though; San Jose came into Monday’s game averaging a league-leading 36.6 shots per game.

Weary optimism for Rangers and Sharks

Both teams should enter November with mixed feelings. The Sharks should be proud of their 5-1-0 road trip, but the bottom line is that a slow start leaves them tied for third place in the rugged Pacific Division. The Rangers got a couple monkeys off their backs, but they’re also stuck behind two strong teams in their own division.

Each team faces great opportunities to extend their solid recent work in early November. San Jose’s schedule counters with a six-game homestand while the Rangers will play three of their next four at home.

In other words, after scratching through a lot of away games, both teams now face the golden opportunity that comes with a whole lot of home cooking.

Breakdown of a breakdown: Numbers from the Kings’ disastrous homestand


There’s one more game left in the Los Angeles Kings’ eight-game homestand, but even if they bludgeon the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night, it’s still safe to say that it’s been a disastrous span of games for the playoff hopefuls.

Assuming they beat the Oilers – which isn’t a small assumption, based on the Kings’ recent play and the way Edmonton beat the San Jose Sharks last night – Los Angeles will only pull four out of a possible 16 points out of that trip. In those first seven games, the Kings are a pitiful 1-6-0.

Let’s take a stats-based look at their seven games of struggles in an attempt to identify trends in that set of games. If nothing else, this could prove entertaining fodder for people who dislike the Kings. (The heaviest populations, one would assume, reside in Anaheim, San Jose, Dallas, Phoenix … and Toronto because many Maple Leafs fans haven’t let the Gretzky high stick on Gilmour go.)

Note: there might be some “big picture” stats, too.

  • They’ve been outscored 18-27 in that seven game span, which actually isn’t that bad considering the fact that they lost six times (all in regulation) in that frame. They’re not getting blown out regularly, at least.
  • Then again, they hold a league-low in charity points with only one overtime/shootout loss, so it seems like they either win in regulation or overtime or don’t get a point at all.
  • The Kings have allowed a stunning 4.5 goals per game in that span while averaging 3 goals of their own.
  • Jonathan Quick is the only Kings goalie with a win in this span (1-4) while Jonathan Bernier went 0-2. Quick allowed 15 goals in five games while Bernier was even worse, allowing 12 in only two.
  • Ryan Smyth has been one of the team’s best players in the span, with five goals and three assists for eight points. Jack Johnson has also been strong, with one goal and six assists for seven points. Meanwhile, Anze Kopitar has five assists and Drew Doughty has four assists.

So, what’s next for the Kings? Here’s a look at their biggest remaining stretches of home and away games.

Biggest home stretches: A six-game stretch from February 24-March 5th and a five-game stretch from March 17-26th.

Biggest road stretches: 10 consecutive road games from February 1-19th and a four-game stretch from March 9-15th.

Overall, the Kings have 18 games at home and 21 games remaining on the road. Things certainly look rough for Los Angeles, but ultimately, it all comes down to the Kings surviving that crazy stretch in February. It should be interesting to watch.

Road trips and Homestands that will shape the Atlantic Division

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On Monday night, we posted some reactions to a piece that claimed the Buffalo Sabres were getting “screwed” by their schedule thanks to a tough road trip. That got us thinking about which groups of home and away games might have the biggest impact on every team in the NHL.

To look at that more deeply, we decided to analyze each squad through the prism of the league’s six divisions over the next few days.

First up – because we’re arbitrarily going in alphabetical order – is the Atlantic Division.

New Jersey

Not that it will matter much, most likely, but let’s look at them anyway.

Best home span: They are involved in their best homestand right now, as they’re playing at home in six of seven from December 23-January 6th.

Worst road trip: No streaks stand out too much, although they do have a couple four-game trips.

NY Islanders

Like the Devils, it might not really matter but let’s go over it anyway.

Two big alternating sets of home and away trips:

Part 1: Five in a row on the road (Dec 31-Jan 9) then five home games in a row and six of seven at home overall (Jan 11-23).

Part 2: Five in a row at home (March 2-11) then five away (March 12-22).

NY Rangers

OK, now we’re getting to the teams that are a little more relevant. The Rangers don’t have any especially big homestands or road trips, though. Their toughest road trip might actually begin on Wednesday, as they play five of their next six away from Madison Square Garden from December 29-January 8th.


The Flyers are neck-and-neck with Pittsburgh for the division (and therefore league/conference) lead, but their schedule is awfully tough going forward.

Brutal road ahead: Philly faces five road games in a row (Dec 28- Jan 6) then they host the Devils for one game on January 8th followed by four more consecutive away games (Jan 11-16).

Followed by a nice home-heavy run: At least the league will reward them a bit after that, as they play eight of 10 games in Philly from January 18-February 10th.


Finally, let’s look at the Penguins’ situation.

For the most part, they don’t have too many huge spans one way or the other, but chunks of streaks at home and on the road. However, their best stretch is probably four of five at home from February 2-10th while the toughest one might be a five game road trip from February 23-March 5th.


Looking at the Atlantic Division from this perspective, the Flyers’ work on their upcoming stretch of road games and then a big run of home contests through mid-February might be the biggest factor from a schedule perspective. It should be a fun race to watch.