At The Break

Tuesday, 23.01.2007 / 12:00 AM / News
Vancouver Canucks
X
Share with your Friends


At The Break

By Jeff Paterson
JAN.23.07

 
National Hockey League action may have stopped for the All-Star game, but the statistical analysis of the NHL never rests.

The following is a look at the Northwest Division and the way the schedule shapes up for each of the five teams who appear to be battling for three playoff spots in the Western Conference (right now NW Division teams occupy the 3rd, 7th, 8th, 9th & 10th seeds).

And while injuries to key players will occur and some teams will make moves prior to the February 27th trade deadline, based on the trends from the first four months of the season, the Canucks appear to be in good shape to return to the playoffs for the first time since the spring of 2004.
 



VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Record to Date: 27-19-2
Points: 56
Projected points: 95.6

Games Remaining: 34 (18 at home/16 on the road)
Average winning % of remaining opponents: .538
Divisional Games remaining: 12 (7 at home/5 on the road)

  HOME AWAY
vs CAL 1 1
vs EDM 1 2
vs COL 3 1
vs MIN 2 1

Back to back games remaining: 3

Positives about remaining games: The Canucks have the most home games and fewest road games (and divisional road games) among the five Northwest Division teams. The Canucks are the only team in the division finished with games in the Eastern Time Zone and only have to venture to the Central Time Zone four times. The Canucks also have all four games remaining against the listless L-A Kings (although Canuck fans will recall the team's lack of success against the struggling St. Louis Blues a year ago).

Remaining-game roadblocks: The Canucks still have to visit both Anaheim and San Jose twice (0-3 vs the Ducks and Sharks so far this season).



CALGARY FLAMES

Record to Date: 26-17-4
Points: 56
Projected points: 97.7

Games Remaining: 35 (17 at home/18 on the road)
Average winning % of remaining opponents: .550
Divisional Games remaining: 15 (7 at home/8 on the road)

  HOME AWAY
vs VAN 1 1
vs EDM 1 1
vs COL 3 3
vs MIN 2 3

Back to back games remaining: 4

Positives about remaining games: 15 of next 28 are at the Saddledome where the Flames have been on fire all season. Should get Jarome Iginla back shortly after All-Star break.

Remaining-game roadblocks: Two games remaining vs Nashville. Back to back games @ Buffalo and Detroit February 10th and 11th. Finish with six of final eight games on the road where they've struggled all year (7-12-4).




MINNESOTA WILD

Record to Date: 25-20-4
Points: 54
Projected points: 90.3

Games Remaining: 33 (16 at home/17 on the road)
Average winning % of remaining opponents: .547
Divisional Games remaining: 17 (8 at home/9 on the road)

  HOME AWAY
vs VAN 1 2
vs CAL 3 2
vs EDM 3 2
vs COL 1 3

Back to back games remaining: 3

Positives about remaining games: The Wild finishes with eight of its last nine games at the Xcel Energy Centre where it has been one of the best teams in the league this season.

Remaining-game roadblocks: The Wild starts the post-All Star portion of its schedule with 16 of the next 24 games on the road (including stops in Nashville, Buffalo and Dallas) where it has won four straight, but only eight times all year (8-15-1).



COLORADO AVALANCHE

Record to Date: 24-20-3
Points: 51
Projected points: 88.9

Games Remaining: 35 (16 at home/19 on the road)
Average winning % of remaining opponents: .574
Divisional Games remaining: 17 (8 at home/9 on the road)

  HOME AWAY
vs VAN 1 3
vs CAL 3 3
vs EDM 1 2
vs MIN 3 1

Positives about remaining games: Have at least a game in hand on everyone else in the division except Calgary. Six of next seven are at the Pepsi Center. Have only one game left against each of San Jose and Anaheim.

Remaining-game roadblocks: The Avs have a stretch of their schedule (Feb 15-Mar 11) where they play 10 of 13 on the road including stops in Buffalo, Detroit, Anaheim, Vancouver and Calgary (twice). They still have two remaining games against the Red Wings in Motown.



EDMONTON OILERS

Record to Date: 23-21-4
Points: 50
Projected points: 85.4

Games Remaining: 34 (16 at home/18 on the road)
Average winning % of remaining opponents: .554
Divisional Games remaining: 13 (7 at home/6 on the road)

  HOME AWAY
vs VAN 2 1
vs CAL 1 1
vs MIN 2 3
vs COL 2 1

Back to back games remaining: 4

Positives about remaining games: Six of eight after the All-Star game are at home and they'll need to pile up the points during that stretch because what follows isn't pretty.

Remaining-game roadblocks: The Oilers finish the year with 16 of their final 26 games away from Rexall Place. They still have to make separate six and seven game road trips including a visit to four of the Northeast Division teams. They finish the year on a six game odyssey while their building plays host to the World Curling Championships. Among the Oilers' remaining road opponents -- Buffalo, Ottawa, Anaheim, S-J, Detroit, Nashville and Minnesota (three times).



What does all of this mean? Obviously the Canucks have to hold up their end of the bargain and continue to win hockey games. But if they play .500 hockey the rest of the way (34 points in 34 remaining games), they'll finish with 90 points. That means Colorado and Edmonton would both have to play well over .500 hockey to catch the Canucks. And with 37 separate divisional game remaining to be played and one team having to lose each of those games, there are a number of points that will go unclaimed even if those games go into overtime or a shootout. One thing is certain: it's going to be wild run to the finish line in the Northwest Division.



Jeff Paterson is a Team 1040 broadcaster and a regular contributor to the Georgia Straight. E-mail him at jeff.paterson@team1040.ca