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Flames, Canucks, Oilers - Who Faces the “Tired” Teams the Most?

Looking at how back-to-backs factor into a schedule

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Last season I did a very similar piece analsying which of the three Western Canadian teams is “luckiest” to play teams who are on the second half of back-to-backs on a road trip.

Last year the Oilers benefitted the most, facing tired teams 12 times while facing fresh teams only 8 times. The Flames were the worst off, facing fresh teams 13 times while playing tired teams 9 times. Vancouver faced fresh and tired teams four times each.

Pretty much every NHL team, especially the ones in the Eastern Conference, make their road trips to Western Canada in one swoop, so they don’t have to return to the frozen wasteland tundra that is Western Canadian winters.

As a result, the Flames, Oilers, and Canucks often play teams on back-to-back games and if one of those three teams wins, the other two fanbases love to come crawling out and say “Oh yeah, we tired them out for you!” or “You only won because they were playing their backup since we played their starter last night” yadda yadda yadda.

So let’s look at who plays the most on the first and second half of other team’s back-to-backs and from that, we should be able to gather who has it the worst.

Just a quick few notes for the table below:

  • Home and Home games between these teams were cancelled out of the table
  • This table only considers back-to-backs that involved these three teams both on the first night and second night
  • Listed Alphabetically by Team Name not by Game Date

Game 1 vs Game 2 by Opponent

Team Game 1 Game 2
Team Game 1 Game 2
Boston Bruins CGY EDM
Buffalo Sabres CGY EDM
Chicago Blackhawks VAN EDM
Dallas Stars CGY EDM
Detroit Red Wings EDM VAN
Los Angeles Kings VAN CGY
Minnesota Wild VAN EDM
Montreal Canadiens CGY EDM
Nashville Predators VAN EDM
Nashville Predators EDM VAN
New York Rangers CGY EDM
Ottawa Senators CGY EDM
Philadelphia Flyers EDM VAN
Pittsburgh Penguins EDM CGY
San Jose Sharks CGY VAN
San Jose Sharks CGY VAN
St. Louis Blues CGY EDM
Washington Capitals EDM CGY
Winnipeg Jets CGY VAN*

Games vs “Fresh” Team: Calgary 10, Edmonton 5, Vancouver 4

Games vs “Tired” Team: Edmonton 10, Vancouver 6, Calgary 3

So the Flames are playing the fresh team seven more times than they’re playing the tired teams this season which is pretty tough. Edmonton faces tired teams five more times than they face fresh teams, while Vancouver gets a couple more games against tired teams than fresh.

Does this actually matter though???

In the 25 back-to-back situations last season, the three Canadian teams combined to go 11-12-2 on the first night against their opponents. On the second night, the three teams were a combined 16-7-2 against their opponents.

With Vancouver removed from the equation, Calgary and Edmonton were 9-10-2 on the first night and 14-6-1 on the second night.

That’s a nine point swing based on who had the second half of the back-to-back which was more often Edmonton. So as expected there is some legitimate benefit to facing the tired team.

Edmonton has a big edge in that category again this year so it’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out by year end. The Flames will be facing the fresher team much more often, so it’ll be a tougher challenge for them.