In our last blog, On Goal Analysis analyzed the 2013-14 schedules of Boston, Buffalo, Detroit and Florida in the Atlantic Division. We were looking for stretches where the tough points will have to come, something we call Division Battles.
We now cover the last half of the Atlantic Division’s Battles for Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto. At the end, we will also summarize the entire Division for its impact on potential, intra-divisional outcomes.
This is the second of a multi-part series as we will look at all of the Division’s schedules in this manner leading up to the season.
Late November / Early December:
NOTES: While there were no large groupings of Division Battles in October or early November, there is an interesting stretch of games from 27 November to 7 December. Two games with BUF, and home games versus TOR and BOS are peppered by one game at WSH and a Black-and-Blue (B&B) home-and-away pair against NJD. Prediction: 1 – to – 2.5 Division wins
NOTES: January may be a tough month. Only six of 13 games are in the division. But they are surrounded by games with PHI, CHI, NJD, PIT and WSH amongst others. Prediction: 2 – to – 3 Division wins
12 – 22 March:
NOTES: This period brings four-of-six games against Division rivals with games home and away with BOS, versus OTT and at TOR It leads into a long intra-divisional stretch to close out the season. Prediction: 1.5 – to – 2.5 Division wins
Final 10 Games:
NOTES: Seven of the final 10 games are against the Hab’s division rivals. From 24 March until 5 April it’s all division, all the time. Two with DET and singles against BOS, BUF, FLA, TBL and OTT means they see everyone except the Leafs. And just for fun, their last three are at CHI and versus NYI and NYR. Make no mistake about it, this last stretch will decide whether or not the Canadiens see post-season action. Prediction: 2.5 – to – 4 Division wins
NOTES: After a quiet opening two months division-wise, BAM! December hits Ottawa like a ton of divisional bricks. Six of the first seven games beginning on 1 December are: versus DET; at FLA and TBL; versus TOR; and following a home game against PHI, they get a B&B special with BUF. The last eight games of the month include another game versus FLA and a second B&B pair with BOS. A tough stretch by any one’s count. Prediction: 4 – to – 6 Division wins
NOTES: Games right around the Olympic break include roadies to TOR and BOS and homers with BUF and DET. For fun, a back-to-back road trip to PIT and STL is thrown in. Prediction: 2 – to – 2.5 Division wins
Final 10 Games:
NOTES: Other than what is mentioned above, the rest of the Sens’ divisional games are scattered well throughout their schedule. The final 10 games only includes home games against MTL and TOR. Prediction: 1 – to – 1.5 Division wins
Tampa Bay Lightning
NOTES: Fifty percent of the Bolts’ opening 12 games are fought within their division. In these six games, they are both home and away against BOS, BUF and FLA. The rest of that schedule is no cakewalk as they get both of their inter-Conference CHI games out of the way and catch PIT and the LAK amongst others. Prediction: 3 – to – 4 Division wins
9 – 12 November:
NOTES: Just a note here that the Lightning get a wonderful road trip to DET, BOS and MTL over a four-day period here. Those three games all depend on how good Tampa Bay is firing at that time. Prediction: 0 – to – 1.5 Division wins
Before the Olympic Break:
NOTES: Five of six games from 28 January to the Olympic break are divisional. Twice they play TOR and once each get OTT, MTL and DET. Prediction: 2 – to – 3 Division wins
NOTES: Six out of 10 games between 6 and 24 March are in this Division Battle. Two are with OTT, and there are singles against BUF, BOS, FLA and TOR. PIT and VAN show up as two of the out-of-division games in this stretch to boot. Prediction: 2 – to – 3 Division wins
Final 10 Games:
NOTES: Four of Tampa’s last 10 games are divisional to round out 50% in their final 20. Here they have a two night road trip to BUF and DET, followed by a six-game home stand that includes contests with MTL and TOR. Prediction: 2 – to – 2.5 Division wins
Toronto Maple Leafs
Mid-December to the Winter Classic:
NOTES: Leading up to the Winter Classic, Toronto does not have any real periods of Division Battle abuse. But four of seven from 16 December through New Years’ Day are intra-divisional. Games at home against FLA, DET and MTL lead up to what will likely set the record for single hockey game attendance at The Big House with the Red Wings again to ring in the new year. Prediction: 2 – to – 2.5 Division wins
End Of January / to the Olympic Break:
NOTES: From 28 January to 6 February, the Maple Leafs have five straight games inside their Division. A home stand against TBL, FLA and OTT dovetails into a road trip to Florida at FLA and TBL. This outcome depends on how the two Floridians are playing at the time. Prediction: 2 – to – 4 Division wins
Final 13 Games:
NOTES: Interestingly, Games 70 – 82 look like bookends/ For 18 – 22 March, games ensue at DET and versus TBL and MTL. Home games against DET and BOS are sandwiched amongst the middle seven contests. And the season closes out away to TBL, FLA and OTT. Prediction: 4 – to – 5.5 Division wins
So what did we learn this time about the Atlantic as a whole?
Firstly, all team experiences three – to – five of these Divisional Battles. This seems about fair to all teams.
Going back to our previous post about the other half of the Atlantic Division, stacking up all eight teams by the maximum estimation of their output in these Division Battles brings the following order:
Boston: Wins 12.5 – 17 of 23 games / .544 – to – .739 Hockey for .767 of their Divisional schedule.
Toronto: Wins 8 – 12 of 17 games / .471 – to – .706 Hockey for .567 of their Divisional schedule.
Detroit: Wins 11.5 – 16 of 23 games / .500 – to – .696 Hockey for .767 of their Divisional schedule.
Ottawa: Wins 7 – 10 of 15 games / .467 – to – .667 Hockey for .500 of their Divisional schedule
Florida: Wins 8 – 13.5 of 22 games / .364 – to – .614 Hockey for .733 of their Divisional schedule.
Buffalo: Wins 5 – 11.5 of 20 games / .250 – to – .575 Hockey for .667 of their Divisional schedule.
Montreal: Wins 7 – 12 of 21 games / .333 – to – .571 Hockey for .700 of their Divisional schedule.
And Tampa Bay: Wins 9 – 14 of 25 games / .360 – to – .560 Hockey for .833 of their Divisional schedule
Those are our predictions for those stretches of games played. None are 100% of the prediction of outcomes within the division. But they are an indicator of how well teams may do in gaining these invaluable points toward a playoff berth.
Are we wrong about Montreal? Might they show better than that? Sure, we could be. Are we overzealous on Toronto? Possibly. The question here will likely not be if Boston and Detroit represent the division at the beginning of the post-season. The question should be if Toronto or Ottawa (and Montreal) might possibly make it in as well.
The next analysis blog examines the first four teams of the newly dubbed Metropolitan Division, the one many pundits are calling the strongest in the NHL. We’ll begin with Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey and the New York Islanders, and then finish the Eastern Conference with the New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington.
More Division Battle analysis is yet to come…