Analyzing the Schedule: Back-to-Back Games

Updated: October 5, 2010 at 11:54 pm by Ryan Campbell

We here at Daily Faceoff strive to bring you as much information as we can to help you win your fantasy league.   The following feature may help you decide which goalies to grab on draft day, and who is worth a mid-season pick up.

In the NHL, goalies will often split games when their team plays on back-to-back (B2B) nights, especially on the road.  Like many other things in the NHL, the B2B schedule is far from fair.  As we can see from the chart below, Buffalo plays a league high 22 B2B’s, while Edmonton and Vancouver only play 11.  This means that Buffalo plays 22 times on a day following a day they played a game.  This is not 22 total games.  44 of their games happen on B2B nights, which is a serious number.

I will allow you to draw your own strategies by looking at the chart yourself, but here are some key insights.

  • Ryan Miller is usually the first netminder off the board this year on draft day which may not be the best strategy.  On a per-game basis he is arguably the top fantasy goalie out there, but the large number of back-to-back games could begin to take it’s toll.  Miller is a workhorse, as evidence by his 75 starts in 2007-08, but even if he takes a game off in half of the B2B sets, that is 11 games off already.  On the flip side, Sabres backup Patrick Lalime should get a few more starts than expected.  Keep an eye on him throughout the season as there could be a situation where he plays 2 out of 3 games for the Sabres, making him a solid one week pick up.
  • On the other end of the spectrum is Roberto Luongo in Vancouver.  Due to Vancouver’s grueling travel schedule, they, like Edmonton, have only been given 11 B2B games.  This will allow Luongo to stay fresh and on top of his game while also playing the maximum number of games.  If you are torn between Miller and Luongo as your top goalie, this might be the little bit of info you need to push Luongo over the top.
  • New Jersey plays 20 B2B games, which should make Johan Hedberg a legitimate fantasy option.  Martin Brodeur isn’t getting any younger, and will probably be rested in a fair share of these B2B sets.  Hedberg isn’t the most talented goalie in the world, but with the stingy Devils in front of him, he should put up some decent numbers.
  • The same goes for the backup goalies on other teams that have a high number of B2B games, like Peters, Roloson/Dipietro, and Garon.
  • On the other hand, workhorses like Rinne and Kipprusoff should benefit from the low number of B2B games.

We will post this chart permanently on the site for your use throughout the year.  Happy fantasy season.

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