So, I enjoy the odd wager. Particularly on hockey. (Though, if any of you works for the IRS, I did not say that I do so illegally, for monetary gain, or any combination of the two.)
It has long been a contention of mine that the team playing the second night of a back-to-back (ie games on consecutive nights) is at a distinct disadvantage. This disadvantage is greater if that team has had to play the night before, then travel eastward, giving up at least an hour (due to time zone change) in the process.
Hockey's just too physically demanding a sport that a team that is rested does not have an advantage over a team that is not rested.
But, up until this point, I didn't have any statistics to back it up.
So this year I began tracking these statistics. I am using the nhl.com schedule/results on a monthly basis. I am looking at how teams on the second night of back-to-backs (B2Bs) fare, whether or not they were the home or away team, and how far they had to travel to play the second night.
Here are the results for October.
The team playing the second night of a B2B had a record of 12-21-0, with one of those twelve wins coming in OT. That's a winning percentage of 36.36%. For those betting on their opponent (i.e. the team that had not played the prior day), those are some good odds.
Among the 33 games in October in which one of the teams was playing on the second night of a B2B, 18 of the teams playing the B2B were from the Eastern Confernence and 15 were from the Western Conference. In other words, there does not appear to be a bias towards either conference in terms of who has to play more B2Bs.
In only three instances did the team that had to travel after playing to play again the next night have to travel eastward, losing one time zone (never more than one time zone in October.) In those three instances, that team went 1-2-0 in their game the night after traveling. However, gaining an hour yielded statistically similar results (also 1-2-0) for the team playing the B2B. The majority of the time, there was no time zone changed suffered by the traveling team, though the results in those games was an equally dismal 10-19-0 (34.48%).
When the B2B team was the home team the second night, their record was 5-8-0 (38.46%.) When they were the away team the second night, their record was 7-13-0 (35%.)
Obviously this is only one month's worth of data, but this limited sample clearly indicates that the team on the second night of a B2B is at a distinct disadvantage - whether they're playing at home or on the road.
Nick in New York