Strength of schedule gives Flyers edge in Presidents' Trophy race

SUNRISE FL - FEBRUARY 16: James van Riemsdyk #21 of the Philadelphia Flyers is congratulated by teammates after scoring a second period goal against the Florida Panthers on February 16 2011 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

The Flyers already have the best record in the Eastern Conference, and if the rest of the schedule has any bearing on where they finish, it looks like they might just finish in that same spot.

According to some fantastic data put together by Dirk Hoag at SB Nation's On the Forecheck, the Flyers have the easiest regular season road ahead of them as they prepare for the stretch run and the postseason. Head over to OtF for a full look at the data for the entire NHL, including an awesome sortable table.

Here, we've pulled out the data that pertains to the Flyers. Let's take a deeper look. 

Road Home B2B Pts % G/G GA/G 5v5 GF/GA PP% PK% Shots/G SA/G
13 12 4 .513 2.69 2.88 0.94 17.3 81.3 30.1 31.1
16 of 30 17 of 30 14 of 30 1 of 30 4 of 30 1 of 30 2 of 30 4 of 30 7 of 30 7 of 30 1 of 30
Flyers Averages Of Remaining Opponents

The best part is that these numbers include games against Phoenix, New York and Carolina, so really, the Flyers are in better shape schedule-wise than the numbers indicate. 

The first three numbers are home many games the Flyers play in each scenario. They're about right in the middle of the league in all of those categories, but since they've been great on the home and on the road this season, it doesn't really matter much.

The juicy stuff starts in the second half of the table there. In terms of points percentage of their remaining opponents, the Flyers have the easiest remaining schedule in the NHL. The Lightning and Bruins are close behind, which really illustrates the divide between the rich and the poor in the East was compared to the West.

In fact, in terms of that points percentage category, eight Eastern teams play weaker opponents the rest of the way than the top Western team on the list -- the Colorado Avalanche

More after the jump.

Some more points on that table:

  • The Flyers' remaining opponents have averaged more goals allowed per game than the opponents of any other team in the league. In this department, unlike the average points percentage department, the closest Eastern challengers are Carolina and Florida. Boston's rank is 5th while the Lightning are down in 13th position. 
  • Collectively, the Flyers' remaining opponents allow more shots per game than the remaining opponents of any other team. Los Angeles is tied with the Flyers in this department while Tampa follows closely behind. Boston is in the basement in this category and Pittsburgh isn't far off. 

The chart really tells you most of what you need to know, so let's move on and look at who the Flyers actually play the rest of the way. Teams ranked 20th or below in the overall NHL standings are shown below in green. Teams ranked in the middle 10 of the NHL standings are in yellow, and teams in red are better than 10th in the NHL. 

As you should expect (unless you've skipped the entire post so far because you saw pretty colors down here), there's a lot of green.

Date Opponent Rank Locale
Thu Feb 24 New York Islanders 28 Home
Sat Feb 26 Ottawa Senators 29 Road
Thu Mar 3 Toronto Maple Leafs 26 Home
Sat Mar 5 Buffalo Sabres 22 Home
Sun Mar 6 New York Rangers 18 Road
Tue Mar 8 Edmonton Oilers 30 Home
Thu Mar 10 Toronto Maple Leafs 26 Road
Sat Mar 12 Atlanta Thrashers 23 Home
Tue Mar 15 Florida Panthers 24 Road
Thu Mar 17 Atlanta Thrashers 23 Road
Sat Mar 19 Dallas Stars 14 Road
Tue Mar 22 Washington Capitals 6 Home
Thu Mar 24 Pittsburgh Penguins 4 Home
Sat Mar 26 New York Islanders 28 Road
Sun Mar 27 Boston Bruins 7 Home
Tue Mar 29 Pittsburgh Penguins 4 Road
Thu Mar 31 Atlanta Thrashers 23 Home
Fri Apr 1 New Jersey Devils 27 Road
Sun Apr 3 New York Rangers 18 Home
Tue Apr 5 Ottawa Senators 29 Road
Fri Apr 8 Buffalo Sabres 22 Road
Sat Apr 9 New York Islanders 28 Home

Now, you might be wondering how the Vancouver Canucks and Detroit Red Wings stack up, since they seem to be the two teams in direct competition with the Flyers for the Presidents' Trophy.

Well, I'm happy to say that since the West is much, much more difficult than the East, with such a giant cluster of teams right in the middle, the schedules of both the Canucks and Red Wings are much more difficult than that of the Flyers from here on out. 

Team Road Home B2B Pts % G/G GA/G 5v5 GF/GA PP% PK% Shots/G SA/G
Detroit Red Wings 13 12 5 .566 2.75 2.68 1.03 18.6 81.9 30.1 30.2
26 of 30 14 of 30 19 of 30 22 of 30 10 of 30 28 of 30 21 of 30 24 of 30 15 of 30 8 of 30 25 of 30
Vancouver Canucks 11 12 1 .559 2.74 2.76 1.03 17.4 81.2 29.7 30.6
7 of 30 11 of 30 1 of 30 16 of 30 9 of 30 19 of 30 19 of 30 8 of 30 6 of 30 2 of 30 13 of 30

If strength of schedule means anything, the Flyers have a very strong shot of gaining on Vancouver (can tie them tonight with a win and a Canucks loss), holding off Detroit and pulling into first overall in the NHL before the end of the season. If strength of schedule means anything, the Flyers should be considered the favorite to win the Presidents' Trophy right now.

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