Nuts and bolts, the Metro Division got (a little bit) screwed
I want to be Mike Lopez when I grow up.
Here’s a look at the NHL’s final regular standings in the Eastern Conference from 2016-17. As a reminder, eight teams in each conference make the playoffs
Tiebreakers and divisional qualification rules not withstanding, both the Islanders and Lightning finished a point out of the playoffs. That’s a difference between what would likely be at least a 1 in 25 chance at a Stanley Cup and at least two games of home playoff revenue, or an early start to golf season. That point difference was immense.
But there’s a problem with using the standings above – the points aren’t equivalent. Specifically, I’ll argue in this post that the 94 points from the Islanders is, all else equal, likely more impressive than the 95 points for the Leafs, given the caliber of each team’s schedule.
The NHL’s unbalanced schedule.
First, some background. NHL teams play intra-division opponents either four or five times, inter-division/intra-conference opponents three times, and all inter-conference opponents two…
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