When will games in hand even out?

(Neville E. Guard / USA Today Sports)

Last year, the National Hockey League revamped the All-Star Game by making it a three-on-three tournament featuring teams from all four divisions. As a way to get the NHLPA to sign off on that format change, the players were granted a five-day bye week inserted into every team’s schedule for this season.

For teams in each conference, it’s made standings watching effectively useless because the difference in games played between teams in the playoff races can often be massive. The byes are all going to be complete by the trade deadline. But when will the games played gap even out?

In short, it’ll take awhile.


Here are the Western teams and the number of games they will have completed by a particular date:

MIN 52 56 59 61 64 68 72
SJ 54 57 60 62 65 69 73
CHI 54 57 60 62 65 69 73
ANA 55 58 61 63 66 69 72
EDM 55 57 60 64 66 69 72
NSH 53 56 59 63 66 69 72
LA 54 55 59 63 65 69 72
STL 54 56 60 62 65 68 72
WPG 56 59 63 64 67 71 74
VAN 53 57 60 62 66 69 72
DAL 54 58 60 63 66 69 72
ARZ 51 55 58 62 65 69 72
COL 50 54 58 61 65 68 72


As you can see by skimming the big fancy table, things take awhile to even out.

  • Feb. 7: 50 to 56 (range of 6)
  • Feb. 14: 54 to 59 (range of 5)
  • Feb. 21: 58 to 63 (range of 6)
  • Feb. 28: 61 to 64 (range of 3)
  • Mar. 7: 64 to 67 (range of 3)
  • Mar. 14: 68 to 71 (range of 3)
  • Mar. 21: 72 to 74 (range of 2)

The good news is that things are mostly balanced out by the trade deadline and stay close to even throughout March – with the exception of Winnipeg, who for some reason will always have a few more games played than everybody else.

In other words? Pay more attention to points percentage rather than total points until the end of February, at which point games played differences will more or less even out and you can start paying attention to the “traditional” points-based standings again.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    What’s wrong with this picture. The NHL has a mandated five-day bye week in the merry winter month of February, but playoff games will be played every second night in June. Yet another example of the Americanization of Canada’s Official Winter Sport.

    How utterly ridiculous is it to break in February at a time when fans are keen to watch hockey? Moreover, there is no NFL now to distract attention and divert sports entertainment dollars.

    The Americanization of the NHL happened years ago when the head office went from TO to NYC. The bad of it is this mandated midwinter break and an American published book with NHL approval that profiled the toughest guys in the history of the NHL and Sean Avery was listed as the baldest dude who ever played the game.

    It is not all bad because the preeminent American NHL broadcaster Stick Emerick has long made it known to his American audience that the best player who ever played the game was Mario Lemeuix, not Gretzky. “I saw both Wayne and Mario from the time they were boys entering the league until they departed as men and household names, and while Gretzky was great, his greatness was only overshadowed by Mario’s magnificence.”

    Choke on that Oiler fans and God bless America and all its ships at sea!

    • StevetheCGYfan

      “Sean Avery was listed as the baldest dude who ever played the game.”

      You are mistaken. Ryan Getzlaf has the title of baldest dude to ever play the game..

    • RealMcHockeyReturns

      Hey BMN, you come up with some silly bizarre non-sensical and ridiculous stuff but this one takes the cake. So the mis-spelled Avery issue (P.S. He IS Canadian) OR this Lemieux vs Gretzky thing proves that Americans took over a Canadian game…they are BOTH Canadian also…so WTF??

      • BlueMoonNigel

        Let’s see if I can give you the dumbed-down version.

        I’d argue that most Canadian hockey fans would scoff at the idea that Avery was the toughest NHLer ever. I know I would, but if the NHL is endorsing a product listing him as such, how many Americans will believe it?

        Likewise, if an American hockey audience is given the message that Lemieux was the greatest of all time, why wouldn’t they believe it? The years Gretzky played in Edmonton were not well noted by the casual US fan, but Mario’s every move was.

        It is not a matter of whether a player is a Canadian or American or a Russian. It is how the Americanized NHL is spinning the game. Think about how the NHL propped up the Coyotes for as long as it did despite wonky evidence that pro hockey would ever sell in Arizona. You had legitimate pro hockey markets ready, able and willing to take the team, but it stayed bolted in the desert.

        The NHL is being controlled more and more by American interests and the product they turn it into will be aimed more for an American audience than a Canadian one. Maybe there is nothing wrong with this. But to claim that hockey is Canada’s game is becoming less and less credible. Yes, there are more Canadian born players in the NHL and indeed the number of foreign born players who were trained in Canada has never been higher, but the big decisions about the direction of the league will be made in America, so if the NHL decides to forego Quebec City or Hamilton in order to place a team in Tucson or Beijing, you can bet it will be a better sell in the US than Canada.

        • Burnward

          “I’d argue that most Canadian hockey fans would scoff at the idea that Avery was the toughest NHLer ever. I know I would, but if the NHL is endorsing a product listing him as such, how many Americans will believe it?”

          About 63 million appear to believe anything that a blowhard idiot says.

        • cjc

          You’re not entirely wrong, but at the end of the day the NHL is run as a business. Let us not forget, a lot of the resistance to new Canadian teams has come from the owners of Canadian franchises (looking at you MLSE).

          They bye week is a result of collective bargaining by the NHLPA, IIRC. The players certainly aren’t complaining about a week off in February.

          Nobody owns this sport, it is not a crown corporation either. If Canadian fans don’t like it, stop watching and take their dollars elsewhere – this might actually have an impact as Toronto and Montreal contribute big time to revenue sharing.

        • Derzie

          Let me dumb it down further: Mario was better than Wayne but Wayne was healthier. Bettman is a tool. The US is spiraling into the dumpster. Hockey belongs to Canada. Did I miss anything?

  • deantheraven

    Points % is only worth bragging rights between rival fans, not teams, and only for this week. Until the # of games played even out, there’s no real value in comparing percentages, since they’re not part of the tie-breaking scheme.