As Flyers fans, we had a lot of complaints about scheduling last season. Remember those long stretches in October and November where we went four or five days without games, thus packing tons of games into March and April in an already compressed Olympic-year schedule?
Oh, and then there's the fact that in half of the six games against perhaps our biggest rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Flyers were on the second night of a back-to-back.
Well, thanks to Dirk Hoag's always-great analysis over at On the Forecheck, we can see the NHL schedule makers answers for our concerns. (Okay, not really... it's all coincidence, I'm sure, but you get the point.)
The Flyers rank second in the league for 2010-11 when it comes to the ratio of how many back-to-back games their play versus how many times they face a team coming off of a game the night prior.
Here's how it shakes out: the Flyers play on back-to-back nights a total of 15 times in 2010-11. That's good for the middle of the pack -- by comparison, Edmonton and Vancouver are on the low end at 11 while Buffalo is at the high end with 22.
The Flyers see opponents on the back end of a back-to-back 21 different times, better than every team in the NHL besides Florida. They're opponents play five more back-to-backs than they do.
This all means that, besides Florida, the Flyers have the greatest benefit when it comes to back-to-back scheduling this coming season. The Pens and Islanders both play seven more back-to-backs than their opponents, while the Devils have a plus-1 advantage and the Rangers have a plus-2 advantage.
Why is this important, besides the obvious fact that teams are more tired when they play the night before? OtF quantifies the thing.
Another grueling aspect of the schedule, however, involves back-to-back sets of games. Teams in general enjoy a Points Percentage of roughly .560 (.500 isn't average anymore thanks to the OT "loser" point), but that Points Percentage drops by about .050 for teams which have already played a game the night before. Some back-to-back sets are particularly tough when you toss in two elite opponents, or a long flight between games.
It'll be fun to look back at this in a few months and see if this tiny advantage helps the Flyers at all.