Does Travel or # Back to Back Games or the Difficulty of Schedule Matter?
I did some analysis on the data from On The Forecheck looking at the effect of distance, back to back games and Quality of Competition has on Winning. See that site for the raw data.
Do Teams That Travel Less Win More?
For Boston that travelled the least or Anaheim that travelled the most that relationship does hold. The correlation is positive but poor so there appears to be little relation between distance travelled and winning games so far this season. A more sophisticated test could separate long travel games from short travel games to see if there is winning difference between those two datasets.
Figure 1: P% vs Distance Travelled
Do Teams that play less back to back games win more?
For Boston who played only 3 back to back so far, the relationship does seem to hold for them but their winning is probably not correlated to this factor. In general the correlation is very weak and like distance there appears to be no significant relationship between # of back to back games and points %. A more sophisticated test could separate back to back games from games with at least one rest day to see if there is a difference in winning between the two datasets.
Figure 2: P% vs # of Back to Back Games
Do Teams that play easier competition win more?
The quality of competition is given by the oppositions winning percentage (so teams that have won more games are considered to be higher quality then teams that have won less). The relationship between winning (P%) and the quality of competition appears to be significant with a high correlation of 0.722. I'm not sure if avg winning P% is a good of the difficulty of the team. Then correlation is a bit trivial because it is simply a measure of the correlation between a team point percentage relative to other team's record. At any rate, Boston who faced the easiest competition has the best record. And ANA, NYI and CBJ with harder competion have worse records.
Figure 3: P% vs Difficulty of Competition
Predicted Points Based on Difficulty of Competition
Based on the above difficulty of competition regression, the predicted points for the remainder of the season (from Dec 21 onward) and final predicted overall points are given below. The playoff cutoff is at LAX at 89 points in the West and Winnipeg at 88 points in the East. The standard of deviation is +-6.4 points or (+- 3.2 games) and so the playoff race is largely undecided. If the difficulty of competition correlation persists for the remainder of the season NSH, CLB, CHI and MIN will struggle while SJS, WAS and TBL should do better for the remainder of the season.
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