All three member leagues under the umbrella Canadian Hockey League schedule three games in three nights. Sometimes, those ‘night’s are actually afternoons, when the team had played a game the night before.
It’s not secret how much I like to look at schedules to look for potential soft spots or a stretch of difficult games. After breaking down the American Hockey League schedule, the next logical step was to break down all CHL schedules for its member leagues.
There’s a lot of information to digest here, so in an effort to keep a streamlined focus, I’m going to keep this at a macro level across all three leagues, delving into just some intricacies of the schedule make up.
For more detail into each CHL league and team, there is a GOOGLE DOC marked up with each team’s breakdown of 3-in-3 sets.
It can’t stop there though.
Sometimes, teams in the middle of a 3-in-3 set face a rested opponent that had more than one days gap between games.
As erratic as the disparity in both the Western Hockey League (WHL) and Ontario Hockey League (OHL), the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) is the beacon of a scheduling socialism.
ONTARIO HOCKEY LEAGUE
|Sault Ste. Marie||2||1||4||1||7|
The Kingston Frontenacs are tied with Barrie, Sarnia, and Sudbury with eight 3-in-3 sets. Kingston has a distinct advantage if an OHL high in sets could be labelled as advantageous. Barrie will play through six sets in calendar year 2013, four in February or later, meaning that 12 of their final 18 games are involved in a 3-in-3 set.
At the time of this writing, the Colts sit at the top of their division with a 14-5-1 record, amassing all their points early in the season to act as a buffer for the deluge of 3-in-3 sets coming after the turn of the calendar.
Conversely, Kingston has all their 3-in-3 sets crammed into a busy schedule, playing all eight sets before January 20. This includes a brutal stretch of four straight weeks of 3-in-3’s. In that same stretch spanning from November 23 to December 16, three of the four sets feature a game in which they play a 2:00 pm afternoon game less than 20 hours after having played a late 7:00 pm game the previous evening.
Windsor is involved in the absolute least sets in the entire CHL with one measly set and they’ve already played it out in mid-October.
At the other end of the scale represented by the Gm1 thru Gm3 columns on the team set tabs are teams that benefit from playing opponents amidst 3-in-3 sets. Kitchener is involved in 10 such games where their opponents are playing in actual Game 3 of these sets. In six of those games, they are a rested team with more than one day between games, split evenly at three apiece. The Rangers sport a nifty 13-5-2 record as of this writing and will have a distinct advantage having three games in November – to help build a lead and bank points – while another three games are scheduled after February 1, 2013.
The soon to be North Bay Battalion lead in this category as a rested team, with seven games, six played at their current home at the Powerade Centre in Brampton. That’s already in addition to only having a measly two 3-in-3 sets (tied with Sault Ste. Marie).
As soon as one would assume the geographic move would negate this advantage and we discover that Sudbury actually hits double digits as a rested team playing against a club that in the thralls of a 3-in-3 set, with seven being Game 2’s of the set.
The OHL is crazy with scheduling and under these parameters within the circle of discussion, the magnitude and disparity is greatest in this league than the other two leagues.
WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE
In comparison to the OHL, the WHL scheduling anomalies are relatively tame. The average team will experience 4.2 3-in-3 sets, while the OHL average is 5.5 sets.
A fairly vanilla collection of data is broken up at the bottom portion of the alphabetical team list with the Vancouver Giants leading the league with nine (9) 3-in-3 sets.
Four sets occur in consecutive weeks beginning in early December lasting to just after the IIHF World Junior Championships. This doesn’t bode well for the struggling club that has played to a dreadful 6-13 record in 19 games. They will likely already have wasted away to obscurity by the time of the three sets after mid-February.
The Giants share the honour with Victoria in the WHL of having the only sets strictly as a road team. Victoria however, only has four sets all season, making 75% of their 3-in-3 sets strictly as a road team. When you’re looking at disadvantages, those 12 games could be the difference between the middling team’s postseason appearance, or early ski holidays in Whistler (do they ski in the spring at Whistler??).
Swift Current and the Tri-City Americans share the distinction of having one 3-in-3 set each at home.
Back to Vancouver, they also lead the CHL with 11 games against a
team that is playing a 3-in-3 set, one more than the Kitchener Rangers.
The reigning 2012 WHL Champions, Edmonton Oil Kings will be defending their title with only one 3-in-3 set in their championship. Adding to that are a WHL-high seven games as a rested team versus a team playing a 3-in-3 set.
The Moose Jaw Warriors and Seattle Thunderbirds play zero games as a rested team, with the Warriors playing four games versus a rested team to boot (Seattle has two).
QUEBEC MAJOR JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
As erratic as the other two leagues are, the QMJHL has the most uniform distribution of 3-in-3 sets. With a team average of three (3) 3-in-3 sets, the only teams that don’t have three sets are Saint John (4) and 2012 Memorial Cup hosts, Shawinigan (2). Every other club has three.
Aside from Moncton having nine (9) games versus teams playing Game 2 of a 3-in-3 set (and Cape Breton and Victoriaville both with zero (0) Game 3’s) there’s a balance to the distribution through the rest of the league. Moncton also has the distinct advantage as a rested team versus teams in 3-in-3 sets with six (6). Four of those games involve a team in Game 2 of their sets.
Cape Breton, in fact, only has one game versus a team involved in a 3-in-3 set (a February 16 affair against Drummondville). Victoriaville has six games versus a team in 3-in-3 sets, but those are all Game 1’s.
I’m unsure where I’m really going with all these schedule breakdowns. Eventually, I would like to determine the historical impact of teams in these occurrences and see just how much of an impact do these events, sets and anomalies impact teams overall performance.
Taking the players out of the equation and focusing entirely on the team performance however poses other questions. Would other players have had a different impact? Did injury and travel play a bigger part in the overall performance? How has the historical distribution of schedules affected teams?
More importantly, a question some NHL executives may be interested in is how are their prospects returned to their Junior clubs affected by this? Is it a detriment to their development? Is it perhaps a bonus, having to deal with adversity at a young(er) age as a precursor to the pressures and intensity of professional competition under focused duress?
This is only the beginning. There is more to come.