Back-to-back games spell trouble on the ice

Nov 28, 2000 2:59 AM

It’s clear to see the Western Conference of the National Hockey League is deeper and more talented than the teams in the Eastern Conference. Here’s just some more statistical proof which you can utilize before going to the betting window.

One of the most difficult situations is back-to-back games, when playing contests in consecutive days, often in two different cities. The travel, the hotels, and the lack of practice and preparation time are all factors that prevent teams from winning. Or do they?

Entering the holiday weekend, Eastern clubs posted a composite 8-22-6 record when both of the back-to-back games were on the road. Meanwhile, the Western sides were an impressive 33-27-8 (and 33-22-7 without expansion teams Columbus and Minnesota).

Not surprisingly, the majority of the victories came from the deepest division in hockey-- the Pacific -- which is a composite 20 games over .500. Plus, based on there geographic location, these squads are used to the travel, which was once the great excuse utilized by the Los Angeles Kings and the old Oakland/California (Golden) Seals.

But no more. The Kings and Colorado are 3-1 in a back-to-back situation, Anaheim is 4-2-2 (although a puzzling 2-5-3 otherwise), and San Jose is an outstanding 8-2-0, the best mark in hockey.


However, the most common of the back-to-back situations is playing one game at home, then the other on the road. Even here, the West dominates.

In the second game only, all three divisions in the West are near or just over the .500 mark at 28-26-4. The Atlantic is also doing well at 7-7-2, but much of this success can be attributed to the proximity of the teams, especially in the Tri-State area.

The best Eastern side in back-to-back is the New York Islanders, at 5-0-1 in any back-to-back situation. However, included was a home-and-home series sweep of Montreal, which later fired its coach due to the lack of progress by the Canadiens. Meanwhile, Boston is 0-6 in three sets of consecutive games opportunities.

But in the Southeast, the mark is a mere 4-9-1, while the Northeast owns a pitiful 4-14-0 record. Clearly, these teams possess holes or a lack of depth that are easily being exploited when these teams are tiring.

In back-to-back situations with at least one at home, it’s just over .500 for a team to win at least one of the two games. The East is 14-13; the West went 12-10.

When both games are on the road, which is more common for Western squads, the West is 33-28-14 in all these games, while the East is a mere 8-19-7.

Totals update

Remember all those early-season penalties, which were to result in more power play opportunities, and in turn, more goals.

Forget it.

While there were more Overs during the first 10 games of each team’s schedule, the players have made the adjustment to the officiating, while the linemaker nodged up the Totals by a half-goal, resulting in more Unders, as expected, over the last three weeks.

In games with a Totals decision, the Over was the winner 53 percent of the time in Games 1-10. But since then, the Under has been the decision 61 percent of the time in cashable tickets (pushes not counted).

And every team saw the trend move towards the Under, except for Boston, Toronto, Chicago, Nashville and Calgary. That’s 83 percent of the teams in the NHL moving towards the Under.