Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Sabres Probably Won't Make the Playoffs

At least that's what the schedule tells us. Sorta.

Stealing the idea from Do Thrashers Have Large Talons, why don't we take a look at how the schedule will play into the Sabres hands and which months are going to be the hardest and the easiest. First, lets start with looking at the average opponents points by month. All this data comes from last year which is a decent projection onto this coming season.

October: 89.6
November: 91.7
December: 88.9
January: 90.8
February: 94.2
March: 91.3
April: 93.3

The last three months of the season looks to be the most challenging. This makes more sense because we play the Eastern Conference winning Canadiens three times, the Red Wings twice, the Ducks twice. The immense road trip that happens in January sees a fairly tough series of opponents but can be handled.

After examing the strength of schedule, lets take a look at which months the Sabres are supposed to win and which they are supposed to lose. We can do this by looking at the Pythagorean Winning Percentage which takes into account the goals scored and the goals allowed by a team. In this case, I calculated the opponents total goals for and against for the month and then subtracted by 1 to get the Sabres winning percentage. Therefore,

October: .517
November: .509
December: .511
January: .497
February: .491
March: .495
April: .500

This gives an average winning percentage of .503, good for 82 points taking account for just winning and losing and not taking the overtime point. With the average team losing about 9 of their games in overtime, this gives an overall total of 91 points on the season. One better than last season but probably still not good enough to make the playoffs.

The Sabres definitely have to make up their points in the first half of the season because of how the schedule turns on them in the second half. With the series of harder opponents and the way that the schedule turns on the Sabres as well, the points are definitely going to be more hard pressed in the later months.

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