I am not a number person by any stretch of the imagination, but I thought I would take a stab at a two-layered strength of schedule analysis to get a better idea of the Sabres chances of making the playoffs. I choose to include Buffalo, Washington, Winnipeg, and Ottawa.
First Layer: I figured up the average points earned of the remaining teams on each contender's schedule. Points are tallied for each game remaining. For example, Buffalo plays Toronto twice so Toronto's points are counted twice in the averaging.
Second Layer: I counted up how many points each team has earned in the last ten games.
Buffalo - Strength of Opponents schedule 84 pts Points earned: 14
Washington - Strength of Opponents schedule 81 pts Points earned: 12
Winnipeg - Strength of Opponents schedule 81 pts Points earned: 9
Ottawa - Strength of Opponents schedule 82 pts Points earned: 10
1. Two of these four teams will make the playoffs.
2. Washington probably has the best chance to make the playoffs as they have the weakest strength of schedule and have played very well in the last ten games.
3. Ottawa is slowly fading, but probably has a big enough lead on Buffalo (four points) to squeak into the playoffs. I would not be surprised if Washington catches Ottawa for the seventh seed.
4. Winnipeg is fading and probably is out of the running, despite the weaker schedule.
5. Buffalo is surging the most, but also has the toughest schedule. As much as I want to see Buffalo make the playoffs and NHL history, I suspect they will finish ninth.
6. Generally speaking, I suspect strength of schedule will not play a big role in this playoff push as they are so similar. If I were weighting these relative factors, I believe the last ten game trend is probably more predictive in this case. This is good news for Buffalo.
7. Overall, I think my oversimplified analysis is probably not worth much, but it was fun for me at least.
What do you think and how do you see this playoff race turning out?