2014 NHL Playoffs: Breaking Down the Anaheim Ducks' Regular Season Schedule

Derek Leung

The Anaheim Ducks finished a point behind the Boston Bruins in the race for the President's Trophy with 116 points. But does their schedule indicate they're a "paper tiger"?

By now, you've probably read Josh Lile's piece documenting why the Stars can not only win this series, but do so in six games. You probably also know by now that the Anaheim Ducks had a league high 1034 PDO in 5on5 Close.

You may have also noticed that some media outlets are predicting a Stars victory (see, we're not all homers here).

Well I've noticed it, too. I also wanted to know just how the Ducks piled up so many points this season when the metrics suggested they should have finished with a significantly lower point total.

Was it because they played the bulk of their games against the Pacific Division?

Well, yes. Partially.

I pulled the Ducks' results this season and then calculated their opponent winning percentage, which came out to .49539. Then I split the results into two separate categories.

Results against teams with winning percentages over .500, and results against teams with winning percentages under .500. Keep in mind Dallas is in the latter group by virtue of the fact they won 40 games.

The findings?

* Anaheim played 46 games against teams that finished with winning percentages below .500. Their record against those teams was 33-10-3.

* Out of those teams that finished with winning percentages below .500, only two made the playoffs (Detroit and Dallas). Anaheim lost the season series to Dallas by a record of 2-1, but they swept Detroit.

* In the other 36 games against teams with better than .500 winning percentages or better, they went 21-10-5.

* Against all playoff teams (41 games), they went 24-12-5.

Now all that having been written, it is worth noting that a good chunk of their schedule comprised games against the terrible teams of western Canada (Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver). The Canucks had the 5th lowest point total in the NHL, the Flames had the 3rd lowest, and the Oilers had the 2nd lowest.

Those teams appeared on Anaheim's schedule 14 times this season with the Ducks going 11-2-1 against the newest members of the Pacific Division. That means Anaheim struggled against the rest of the competition this season, right?

Well, not exactly. Against teams not named Calgary, Edmonton, or Vancouver, they went 43-18-7, accumulating 93 points. The Pacific wasn't really renowned for it's competitive nature from top to bottom, but it wasn't exactly the Atlantic Division, either, which managed to place half it's team in the lower third of the NHL in point totals.

And even through there are plenty of advanced metrics that point towards a potential first round upset, it's worth noting their goal differential of 57 is equaled only by the St Louis Blues and exceeded by only the Boston Bruins in the entire league. And they did it while scoring the second most goals in the league, behind just the Chicago Blackhawks.

I still believe the Stars have an excellent chance to pull off the upset in this series based on the season-long FenwickClose and CorsiClose numbers for both teams. But if you're looking for reasons for an upset in the Ducks' schedule this season, you won't find any.

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