(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:
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.