Bye Week Cursed, teams finding wins elsewhere

    Mitch Marner, Matt Martin, Connor Carrick enjoying the Cayman Islands on their bye week. Photo via @connorcarrick Instagram account

    All 30 NHL teams have enjoyed their newly-implemented bye week, a five-day, hockey-free vacation as agreed upon by the NHL and NHLPA during All-Star Game reformation talks. For superstars on the eventual 2016-17 Stanley Cup-winning team, this season could include the World Cup of Hockey tournament, 82 regular season games, All-Star festivities, and a taxing playoff run. These players surely welcomed a week off, but whether the bye involved a beach, boat, or bed, the hockey hiatus had a harmful hangover.

    Rusty Returns

    Teams went 10-16-4 – and were outscored 98-79 – in their first game back from the bye. Teams written in blue won their first game back, teams in red lost, and teams in green lost in overtime or shootout.

    Team Break Welcome Back Game Day
    Anaheim Ducks February 26-March 2 W 5-2 vs. TOR March 3
    Arizona Coyotes January 8-12 W 4-3 vs. WPG January 23
    Boston Bruins February 13-17 W 2-1 (OT) @ SJS February 19
    Buffalo Sabres February 20-24 L 5-3 @ COL January 25
    Calgary Flames February 8-12 L 5-0 vs. ARI February 13
    Carolina Hurricanes February 12-16 OTL 2-1 vs COL February 17
    Chicago Blackhawks February 13-17 L 3-1 vs. EDM February 18
    Colorado Avalanche January 7-11 L 4-1 vs. ANA January 12
    Columbus Blue Jackets February 20-24 W 7-0 vs NYI February 25
    Dallas Stars February 19-23 W 5-2 vs. ARI February 24
    Detroit Red Wings February 22-26 W 3-2 (OT) @ VAN February 28
    Edmonton Oilers February 6-10 L 5-1 vs. CHI February 11
    Florida Panthers February 4-8 L 6-3 vs. LAK February 9
    Los Angeles Kings February 10-14 L 5-3 vs. ARI February 16
    Minnesota Wild February 22-26 W 5-4 (OT) vs LAK February 27
    Montreal Canadiens February 13-17 L 3-1 vs WPG February 18
    Nashville Predators February 13-17 L 5-2 @ MIN February 18
    New Jersey Devils February 7-11 L 4-1 vs. SJS February 12
    New York Islanders January 1-5 OTL 2-1 @ COL January 6
    New York Rangers January 8-12 L 4-2 vs TOR January 13
    Philadelphia Flyers January 16-20 L 4-1 vs NJD January 21
    Ottawa Senators January 2-6 L 1-0 vs. WAS January 7
    Pittsburgh Penguins January 1-7 W 6-2 vs TBL January 8
    San Jose Sharks February 20-24 W 4-1 @ VAN February 25
    St. Louis Blues February 21-25 L 4-2 @ CHI February 26
    Tampa Bay Lightning February 12-16 OTL 4 -3 @ DAL February 18
    Toronto Maple Leafs January 8-12 W 4-2 @ NYR January 13
    Vancouver Canucks February 20-24 L 4-1 vs. SJS February 25
    Washington Capitals February 12-16 OTL (SO) 3-2 vs. DET February 18
    Winnipeg Jets February 22-26 L 6-5 vs. MIN February 28

    Attribute the lackluster effort to whatever conspiracy theory you’d like but facts are facts: two points were a rare commodity for a returning team (especially on February 18th).

    Bye Week Ripple Effect

    Immediately before the Leafs’ time off, Toronto Head Coach Mike Babcock said he felt the bye week was “100% wrong for player safety.”

    “To me, the more days rest you can have by not playing back-to-backs and jamming it in, the healthier you have a chance to be.”

    We can’t concretely measure a player’s health unless he’s on the IR, however, we can calculate points earned in Babs’ aforementioned back-to-back games and evaluate the bye week’s effect on the NHL standings.

    In 2015-16, teams played 414 total doubles, which averaged out to 13.8 per team. That number increased to 442 this year, consequently raising the average to 14.73 per team.

    This is how each franchise has fared in back-to-backs this season (as of 11:59 PM PT March 12, 2017).

    Team ’15-’16 B2B ’16-’17 B2B ’16-’17 Game 1 ’16-’17 Game 2 Goals For – Goals Against (Game 1, Game 2)
    ANA 11 14 (10 complete) 6-2-3 / 15 pts 3-5-3 / 9 pts 23-16, 28-37
    ARZ 15 13 (11 complete) 2-6-3 / 7 pts 3-7-1 / 7 pts 21-39, 22-37
    BOS 11 14 (10 complete) 5-3-2 / 12 pts 3-5-2 / 8 pts 27-26, 18-26
    BUF 15 19 (13 complete) 6-5-2 / 14 pts 5-7-1 / 11 pts 32-31, 31-41
    CAL 12 11 (all complete) 5-6-0 / 10 pts 4-4-3 / 11 pts 23-33, 21-28
    CAR 16 16 (11 completed) 6-3-2 / 14 pts 7-4-0 / 14 pts 21-33, 29-26
    CHI 13 14 (13 complete) 8-5-0 / 16 pts 9-3-1 / 19 pts 35-31, 45-31
    COL 10 11 (9 complete) 2-7-0 / 4 pts 3-6-0 / 6 pts 10-37, 9-28
    CBJ 18 19 (15 complete) 11-3-1 / 23 pts 8-4-3 / 19 pts 61-32, 45-38
    DAL 12 10 (7 complete) 3-3-1 / 7 pts 2-4-1 / 5 pts 23-21, 18-26
    DET 17 16 (11 complete) (have a triple March 26-28) 4-5-2 / 10 pts 5-5-1 / 11 pts 29-33, 27-32
    EDM 8 10 (8 complete) 4-3-1 / 9 pts 4-2-2 / 10 pts 21-21, 23-20
    FLA 14 15 (12 complete) 4-5-3 / 11 pts 5-3-4 / 14 pts 29-38, 31-34
    LAK 13 16 (12 complete) 5-6-1 / 11 pts 5-5-2 / 12 pts 27-26, 21-25
    MIN 15 14 (11 complete) 7-2-2 / 16 pts 6-3-2 / 14 pts 41-32, 39-40
    MTL 16 15 (13 complete) 7-5-1 / 15 pts 7-4-2 / 16 pts 46-33, 26-32
    NAS 12 13 (11 complete) 5-5-1 / 11 pts 7-3-1 / 15 pts 36-40, 40-28
    NJD 12 17 (14 complete) 4-6-4 / 12 pts 7-4-3 / 17 pts 32-40, 40-34
    NYI 15 16 (12 complete) 5-6-1 / 11 pts 5-3-4 / 14 pts 37-37, 36-36
    NYR 17 16 (11 complete, 1 in progress) 9-2-1 / 19 pts 9-2-0 / 18 pts (MAR 13 vs TBL outstanding) 32-22, 39-25
    OTT 14 13 (10 complete) 6-4-0 / 12 pts 6-3-1 / 13 pts 24-23, 35-32
    PHI 16 18 (14 complete) 8-6-0 / 16 pts 8-4-2 / 18 pts 40-40, 33-40
    PIT 17 15 (13 complete) 6-5-2 / 14 pts 6-3-4 / 16 pts 37-42, 32-31
    SJS 14 16 (13 complete) 8-4-1 / 17 pts 9-3-1 / 19 pts 36-31, 40-28
    STL 12 12 (10 complete)  7-1-2 / 16 pts 8-2-0 / 16 pts 28-16, 35-19
    TBL 13 16 (12 complete) 6-4-2 / 14 pts 3-4-5 / 11 pts 32-26, 21-35
    TOR 16 18 (15 complete) 7-4-4 / 18 pts 4-9-2 / 10 pts 54-41, 34-47
    VAN 13 15 (13 complete) 5-7-1 / 11 pts 5-8-0 / 10 pts 26-35, 26-38
    WAS 15 16 (13 complete) 9-2-2 / 20 pts 5-7-1 / 11 pts 45-27, 38-36
    WPG 12 14 (12 complete) 6-5-1 / 13 pts 6-4-2 / 14 pts 35-36, 32-28

    Not That Bad

    Before we jump to conclusions, let’s consider additional performance factors. None of these stats take into account healthy scratches, injuries, starting goaltenders, road/home advantages, or quality of competition. The goal totals also include empty-netters and shootout winners (numbers were calculated by adding scores, regardless of how the final “goal” was scored).

    Back-to-backs haven’t been as disastrous as this fan anticipated. Teams are 167-130-54 in the latter half of a double this season, 19 of which have recorded more or the equal amount of points in game two than game one. That’s a 47.58 win percentage and a 62.96 get-at-least-a-point percentage.

    Babs, we don’t know enough about injuries to say whether B2B games have had a significant impact on player health. We do know these games haven’t caused a crisis in the win column.

    If we can assume one thing from all this information it’s that momentum is a serious factor to winning at the NHL level.