Tag: schedule analysis


Blackhawks send Red Wings below .500 on road


The Detroit Red Wings’ home winning streak remains intact at 23, but they might want to find a way to get things together when they’re not at Joe Louis Arena.

The Chicago Blackhawks extended their own winning streak to four games tonight with a tight 2-1 win over Detroit, pushing their division rivals’ road record to a surprising 15-16-1. Corey Crawford’s four-game winning streak matches his teams and he’s playing like the guy who the franchise finally decided to settle on last off-season.

This loss ends the Red Wings’ more general winning streak of six games, but it might be valuable for the purposes of Jimmy Howard shaking off his rust while not putting the home run in jeopardy.

They play their next two games at home, including Thursday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks – the contest that the largest amount of PHT readers believe will end it all. That Vancouver game could have a serious impact on the race for the first seed in the Pacific as Vancouver is two points behind Detroit with a game in hand.

Chicago is now comfortably in sixth place with 73 points. That designation would almost certainly set up a match with the Pacific Division winner, which at this time would be San Jose. (I’d say that would be an 11 out of 10 on the scale of first round playoff matchups.)


One game can only tell so much, but it’s starting to seem more and more obvious that the Red Wings have more incentive than any other top team to take the top seed.

Check out the highlights of tonight’s game:

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Jets don’t quite get revenge on Ilya Bryzgalov

Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Andrew Ladd, Brian Little, Ilya Bryzgalov

In case you have foggy memories (or your memory is getting foggier on Fat Tuesday), Ilya Bryzgalov shuddered at the thought of Phoenix’s possible move to Winnipeg. Most infamously, the Russian netminder complained of the market’s lack of parks, which presumably would be a bummer for his hot chick-like dog.

With that in mind, this was the first real time for Winnipeg Jets fans to troll away. And yes, they serenaded him with plenty of “Illyyyyaaaaa” chants, but he (sort of) got the last laugh because the Flyers beat the Jets 5-4 in overtime.

That’s not to say that Bryzgalov was exactly lights out as he allowed those four goals on just 26 shots, but the W can heal a lot of wounds.

Looking forward

The bright side for the Jets is that the Toronto Maple Leafs were unable to fatten their lead for eight place in the East as the New Jersey Devils edged them in OT too by a score of 4-3. Winnipeg is off to a nice start with their eight-game homestand as they’re now 2-0-1. Here is a look a the rest of their home-heavy next 10 games:

Thursday: vs. Tampa Bay
Saturday: vs. St. Louis
Feb. 27: vs. Edmonton
March 1: vs. Florida
March 5: vs. Buffalo
March 8: at Vancouver
March 9: at Calgary
March 14: vs. Dallas
March 16: vs. Washington
March 18: vs. Carolina

There are some genuine challenges in that set (particularly that tough back-to-back duo on the road), but the Jets could make up some serious ground on the Leafs and the Southeast Division in that time.

Even with that win, the Flyers merely stood in place in the East’s playoff midsection. The Pittsburgh Penguins blanked the New York Rangers 2-0 while the aforementioned Devils beat the Leafs so Philly remains in fifth.

Placement probably doesn’t matter a ton to Philadelphia since its road record (19-9-2) is actually better than what they’ve done at home (14-10-5).

In fact, Philly might just be better of taking the sixth spot – which would get that much more intriguing if the Jets ended up being the Flyers’ first round hosts.

Sharks hope to re-gain road groove

Antti Niemi

The San Jose Sharks have averaged about 50 road points per season under coach Todd McLellan, according to The Mercury News’ David Pollak. That might not sound like much, but it’s one of the tendencies that’s helped the Sharks distinguish themselves as one of the league’s best regular season teams.

With a 1-3-1 mark in their current road trip and a 2-6-2 record in their last 10 away games, Pollak wonders if their relative road warrior status is in jeopardy.

“We’re not that far off, but we’re off,” McLellan said. “We now look at the overall road game – Are we using our minutes properly? Do we create momentum? Do we keep it? Are we bearing down in situations that are essential – whether it’s offensively or defensively?

“I think there are a number of players who can do a better job in that area and can do a better job. That’s the trick, to get them to do it. We’ll keep pushing.”

The Sharks might upgrade the situation from a slight concern to a significant annoyance if they lose tonight against the lowly Blue Jackets in Columbus. After that, they’ll play the last three road games of this nine-game trip* before rotating four-game spans (home, then road) before playing six out of seven contests at the Shark Tank in mid-March.

San Jose’s in a solid position to win the Pacific Division, but getting their away act together would just about clinch it.

* – Those away contests are against Toronto (Thursday), Nashville (Saturday) and Minnesota (Sunday).

Gauging the surging Anaheim Ducks’ playoff prospects

Anaheim Ducks v Pittsburgh Penguins

The hot-and-cold Anaheim Ducks are downright torrid now, but if you want to put their overall body of work in perspective, peek at their record after a 2-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Click here to see Teemu Selanne’s game-winning [and historic] goal.)

24-24-9 for 57 points.

As hot as the Ducks have been – and as eerily familiar as this run is becoming compared to last season’s surge – the team is just now at .500. That doesn’t sound like the stuff of a Western Conference playoff team, but let’s dig a little deeper.

The cold, nerdy perspective

Sports Club Stats is the generally agreed-upon source for sober analysis of every team’s playoff chances. That site’s forecast of the Ducks’ chances isn’t very sunny right now: they’re currently at 6 percent, which places them 13th overall in the West.

The schedule

Anaheim’s immediate future doesn’t lend much in the way of optimism – at least if you ignore the context of its scalding run. The Ducks still have four road games in a row and five of their next six away from Anaheim. There’s also a four-out-of-five away run to in early March.

Trending up

That schedule bit can only rain on the Ducks’ parade so much because they’ve gone 3-0-1 in the first half of their current eight-game road trip. The Ducks are also enjoying a seven-game points streak (5-0-2) and have been hot in general since the New Year, putting together an impressive 14-3-3 mark.

The big picture

Excluding the four bubble teams in front of them for the sake of sanity, the Ducks are six points behind eighth-place Phoenix and trail the Blackhawks and Kings by eight as of this writing. Anaheim has 11 home and 14 road games remaining on its schedule.

Circling back to Sports Club Stats, the Ducks would have a 61.1 percent chance to make the playoffs if they go 16-7-2, a 78 percent chance if they go 16-6-3 and so on. In other words, they’d need to more-or-less duplicate the great work from 2012 while hoping that some of their peers stumble.


The Ducks face a steep mountain, but they did last season as well. Can they do it again? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Here are highlights from that Ducks-Penguins game:

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Missed opportunities for Caps, Habs tonight

San Jose Sharks v Washington Capitals
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Rarely can one clip symbolize a tough loss for two different teams, but I think Joe Pavelski’s goal on Braden Holtby ties a nice bow around missed opportunities for both the Washington Capitals and Montreal Canadiens:

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The San Jose Sharks topped the Capitals 5-3, but as just about any onlooker will tell you, the score was deceptively close. Washington essentially scored two garbage goals to put a little makeup on an ugly loss. (They did throw 30 shots on goal through two periods, which they hadn’t done in almost a year according to Neil Greenberg, so at least there’s that.)

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You might be surprised to learn that the Montreal Canadiens were crawling back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture coming into Monday. Hope was building as they were within seven points of the eighth-place Toronto Maple Leafs after winning four games in a row, but they’ll remain that far behind while Toronto gains a game in hand.

Kirk Muller won his reunion with Montreal as Carolina generated a 5-3 win.

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The Caps’ match against the Sharks could have helped Washington make up for its stumbles in the Southeast Division race by at least getting them in the top eight. Things just got worse instead, though, because the Sharks slammed the lid hard on that opportunity.

East bubble update

If we’re going to give Montreal a half-serious look at the playoffs, perhaps it’s appropriate to at least ponder Carolina’s chances. (It’s probably not very realistic, though.) Here’s how the East bubble looks right now:

7. Ottawa: 28-22-8 for 64 points in 58 Games Played
8. Toronto: 28-22-6 for 62 points in 56 GP

9. Washington: 28-23-5 for 61 points in 56 GP
10. Winnipeg: 26-25-6 for 58 points in 57 GP

11. Montreal: 23-25-9 for 55 points in 57 GP
12. Tampa Bay: 24-25-6 for 54 points in 55 GP
13. Buffalo: 24-25-6 for 54 points in 55 GP
14. NY Islanders: 23-24-8 for 54 points in 55 GP

15. Carolina: 21-25-11 for 53 points in 57 GP

As you can see, the teams are separated into four groups which could be described as such: currently in the playoffs (7-8), knocking on the door (9-10), long shots (11-14) and just-about mathematically eliminated (Carolina).

Get your WINnipeg memes ready

Looking at the list, the biggest winner of Monday might just be the inactive Winnipeg Jets. They have two winnable games (vs. Islanders and at Minnesota Wild) followed by eight consecutive home games and 11 of 13 in Winnipeg.

(If there was such thing as gambling on media trends, I’d bet my imaginary mortgage on a stream of “How about those Jets” type headlines in a week or two.)

Final thoughts on Caps, Habs

Washington’s one bright side is that Toronto has a three-game losing streak of its own, so the Capitals are merely idling rather than sliding. Still, if they miss the playoffs, they’ll look back at runs like these to explain why.

Montreal’s probably just trying to save face, though, unless you really believe in miracles.