NHL schedule spots can make, break you

With the NHL season opening Wednesday, the unique schedule will draw a lot of focus. Not only is the season starting three months later than usual with fewer games, the frequency has picked up, meaning shorter rests and more back-to-back scenarios. Teams are also playing opponents in series-type formats of two or three games in a row.
 
I have always believed that in sports with multiple games a week in an inconsistent format — hockey and basketball — the layout of a team’s schedule can have a huge impact on its performance. The simple fact is that some teams fare better in certain scheduling spots than others — for many debatable reasons.
 
I’ve dug into my NHL database over the last three seasons to try to pinpoint key spots in the 2021 schedule. Some trends indicate that some teams are set up for greater success than others this season due to the condensed schedule.
 
Here are 10 top play-on and play-against scheduling situations that have produced noteworthy results for bettors over the last few seasons. I have listed all the spots to which they will apply over the next four months. If you notice a continued pattern of winning, by all means, keep playing it. If you see the pattern starting to turn, perhaps eliminate it from the list. 
 
 
Here is a brief explanation of each scheduling situation referenced:
— 3+ Days: Team playing with three full days of rest or more.
— 3rdGamein4Days: Team playing its third game in a four-day span.
— 3rdRoadin4Days: Team playing its third road game in a four-day span.
— 3rdStraightHome: Team playing its third or more straight game at home.
— 4thRoadin6Days: Team playing its fourth road game in a six-day span.
— 4thStraightHome: Team playing its fourth or more straight game at home.
— 4thStraightRoad: Team playing its fourth or more straight game on the road.
— A2A B2b: Team playing its second road game in back-to-back days.
— A2H B2b: Team playing at home after a road game the previous day.
— H2A B2b: Team playing on the road after a home game the previous day.
 
Top play-on scheduling spots
 
PITTSBURGH
Scheduling situation: A2H B2b
Record (last three seasons): 11-1, + 9.4 units
Average score of games: Pittsburgh 4.1, Opponent 1.8
ROI: 78%
Qualifying game for 2021:
2/2/21: vs. New Jersey
 
VEGAS
Scheduling situation: H2A B2b
Record (last three seasons): 5-1, + 4.6 units
Average score of games: Vegas 4.7, Opponent 2.7
ROI: 77%
Qualifying game for 2021:
4/12/21: at Los Angeles
 
LOS ANGELES
Scheduling situation: 3rdRoadin4Days
Record (last three seasons): 12-6, + 10.3 units
Average score of games: Los Angeles 3, Opponent 2.4
ROI: 57%
Qualifying games for 2021:
1/26/21: at Minnesota
2/27/21: at Minnesota
5/3/21: at Arizona
 
DALLAS
Scheduling situation: 3+ Days
Record (last three seasons): 16-5, + 11.25 units
Average score of games: Dallas 2.7, Opponent 1.9
ROI: 54%
Qualifying game for 2021:
5/6/21: at Chicago
 
COLUMBUS
Scheduling situation: A2A B2b
Record (last three seasons): 8-3, + 5.65 units
Average score of games: Columbus 3.5, Opponent 2.5
ROI: 51%
Qualifying games for 2021:
1/19/21: at Detroit
2/28/21: at Nashville
3/28/21: at Detroit
4/4/21: at Florida
4/20/21: at Florida
 
NASHVILLE
Scheduling situation: 4thStraightHome
Record (last three seasons): 9-3, + 4.75 units
Average score of games: Nashville 3.7, Opponent 2.9
ROI: 40%
Qualifying games for 2021:
1/19/21: vs. Carolina
2/13/21: vs. Detroit
3/6/21: vs. Florida
4/4/21: vs. Chicago
5/1/21: vs. Dallas
 
CALGARY
Scheduling situation: 4thStraightRoad
Record (last three seasons): 10-5, + 5.75 units
Average score of games: Calgary 3.3, Opponent 2.5
ROI: 38%
Qualifying games for 2021:
2/2/21: at Winnipeg
2/4/21: at Winnipeg
2/25/21: at Ottawa
2/27/21: at Ottawa
3/1/21: at Ottawa
3/24/21: at Ottawa
 
MINNESOTA
Scheduling situation: 3+ Days
Record (last three seasons): 15-8, + 7.7 units
Average score of games: Minnesota 3.4, Opponent 2.6
ROI: 33%
Qualifying games for 2021:
2/26/21: vs. Los Angeles
3/18/21: at Colorado
3/29/21: at San Jose
4/16/21: vs. San Jose
 
BOSTON
Scheduling situation: 3rdStraightHome
Record (last three seasons): 25-9, + 10.55 units
Average score of games: Boston 3.9, Opponent 2.4
ROI: 31%
Qualifying games for 2021:
1/26/21: vs. Pittsburgh
1/28/21: vs. Pittsburgh
2/21/21: vs. Philadelphia
3/7/21: vs. Philadelphia
3/28/21: vs. New Jersey
3/30/21: vs. New Jersey
4/1/21: vs. Pittsburgh
4/3/21: vs. Pittsburgh
4/18/21: vs. Washington
4/20/21: vs. Washington
 
TAMPA BAY
Scheduling situation: 3rdGamein4Days
Record (last three seasons): 37-16, + 15.5 units
Average score of games: Tampa Bay 3.7, Opponent 2.7
ROI: 29%
Qualifying games for 2021:
2/11/21: at Florida
3/7/21: at Chicago
3/28/21: at Carolina
3/30/21: vs. Columbus
4/4/21: vs. Detroit
4/6/21: at Columbus
4/20/21: vs. Carolina
4/22/21: vs. Columbus
5/4/21: vs. Florida
 
Top play-against scheduling spots
 
SAN JOSE
Scheduling situation: 4thRoadin6Days
Record (last three seasons): 2-11, -9.85 units
Average score of games: San Jose 2.2, Opponent 3.6
ROI: -76%
Qualifying games for 2021:
3/17/21: at Vegas
4/21/21: at Vegas
 
MONTREAL
Scheduling situation: A2H B2b
Record (last three seasons): 3-10, -9.4 units
Average score of games: Montreal 2.5, Opponent 3.4
ROI: -72%
Qualifying game for 2021:
4/8/21: vs. Winnipeg
 
EDMONTON
Scheduling situation: 3+ Days
Record (last three seasons): 4-14, -12.8 units
Average score of games: Edmonton 3.2, Opponent 4.1
ROI: -71%
Qualifying games for 2021:
2/6/21: at Calgary
2/15/21: vs. Winnipeg
4/2/21: vs. Calgary
4/26/21: at Winnipeg
 
MINNESOTA
Scheduling situation: 4thStraightHome
Record (last three seasons): 5-11, -10.5 units
Average score of games: Minnesota 2.1, Opponent 3.1
ROI: -66%
Qualifying games for 2021:
1/28/21: vs. Los Angeles
1/30/21: vs. Colorado
1/31/21: vs. Colorado
2/11/21: vs. St. Louis
5/8/21: vs. Anaheim
 
CHICAGO
Scheduling situation: 3rdRoadin4Days
Record (last three seasons): 1-6, -4.6 units
Average score of games: Chicago 2.6, Opponent 4.4
ROI: -66%
Qualifying game for 2021:
2/20/21: at Carolina
 
CAROLINA
Scheduling situation: 3+ Days
Record (last three seasons): 7-18, -15.5 units
Average score of games: Carolina 2.3, Opponent 3.5
ROI: -62%
Qualifying game for 2021:
3/9/21: vs. Nashville
 
PHILADELPHIA
Scheduling situation: 4thStraightRoad
Record (last three seasons): 2-8, -5.3 units
Average score of games: Philadelphia 2.8, Opponent 4.3
ROI: -53%
Qualifying games for 2021:
1/28/21: at New Jersey
3/4/21: at Pittsburgh
3/7/21: at Boston
3/20/21: at New York Islanders
 
PITTSBURGH
Scheduling situation: A2A B2b
Record (last three seasons): 5-13, -9.35 units
Average score of games: Pittsburgh 2.8, Opponent 4.2
ROI: -52%
Qualifying games for 2021:
2/28/21: at New York Islanders
5/4/21: at Philadelphia
 
ARIZONA
Scheduling situation: 3rdRoadin4Days
Record (last three seasons): 5-16, -10.2 units
Average score of games: Arizona 2.0, Opponent 3.3
ROI: -49%
Qualifying games for 2021:
2/7/21: at Minnesota
2/9/21: at Colorado
4/5/21: at Los Angeles
4/7/21: at Los Angeles
4/26/21: at San Jose
 
DALLAS
Scheduling Situation: 3rdGamein4Days
Record (last three seasons): 15-30, -22.05 units
Average score of games: Dallas 2.3, Opponent 3.2
ROI: -49%
Qualifying games for 2021:
1/31/21: at Carolina
2/2/21: at Columbus
2/16/21: vs. Nashville
2/18/21: vs. Tampa Bay
3/28/21: vs. Florida
3/30/21: at Nashville
4/4/21: at Carolina
4/6/21: at Chicago
4/20/21: vs. Detroit
4/22/21: at Detroit
4/27/21: vs. Carolina
4/29/21: at Nashville
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