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.