Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Ducks Gameday—A hasty look at the SoCal Two-For-One Special

Vancouver Canucks (5-5-0, t-7th in west) at Anaheim Ducks (6-5-0, 5th in west)
Trick or treat? Teemu takes Trick.


Sorry this gameday post was so late in coming, but I was under the assumption that the NHL was going to suspend all regular season games until its posterchild Sid Crosby recovered from his mystery injury. Whoops!

At any rate, because I was so bored at work today I thought I'd revisit an old study I did about the success of teams visiting SoCal to play both the Kings and the Ducks. In the table below, I've pooled together all the instances since the lockout when a visiting team played at the Honda Center and the Staples Center within two days of each other, then separated the results according to (a) which arena they visited first, and (b) how many days separated the games. Keep in mind, this table shows visiting opponent results, not the results for the home teams:


(click image to enlarge)

There's a lot of data thrown in this table (and sorry for the shoddy image quality), but here's a few quick takeaways:

1. Given a choice, a visiting team probably prefers to visit the Ducks before they visit the Kings. In the 23 times that has happened since the lockout, teams have won 10 times in the Honda Center, 13 times in the Staples Center, and 7 times a visiting team has won in both venues.

When teams visit the Kings first (as Vancouver did last night), they generally get ripped up by the Ducks in the second game. In the 35 times that has happened since the lockout, only 9 times has a visiting team won the second game in Honda Center and only 2 times has a visiting team been able to walk away with victories in each building (though the Canucks could become the third team to do it tonight).

Interesting to note that if you count the upcoming games against Vancouver and Calgary, that will make the last eleven straight opponents who went to Staples Center first.

2. A day off between games helps a team in either situation. Neither Vancouver nor Calgary will enjoy that luxury, but as you can see, visiting teams do enjoy better results in the second game if they have a day off to prepare for it. It's intuitive, sure, but I thought I'd point it out.

What's less intuitive? Teams with a day off between venues are typically enjoying better results in the first game, also. Possibly this has to do with "looking ahead" at the next day's opponent?

3. There's still plenty of factors that aren't included in this spreadsheet. Part of what makes this study a bit complex is that loosely speaking, the last three-plus seasons the Ducks have been very good and the Kings have been very bad, and it's interesting to see how teams strategize with that in mind. Should a team play its starter against Anaheim and its back-up against L.A., to try to pick up points in each venue? Or should the starter get the easier points in L.A. and let the back-up try to pull an upset in Anaheim?

Also lost a bit in this story is the set of teams that are making these two-stop trips; generally it's teams that have to travel very far (San Jose doesn't appear in this data once, as an example). Just another thing to keep in mind when over-analyzing these results.

At any rate, I've laid out the results in what I think is a logical way; feel free to comment or question any of it, or add observations of your own.

Prediction: Per the spreadsheet, Ducks win 3.5 - 2.2. Goals by Hedican, Morrison, Pahlsson, and half a goal by Perry.

Have a safe and pagan Halloween, everyone! Go Ducks.

16 comments:

brokeyard said...

Sucks for the Canuck who gets the 1/5 goal.

Ksy92003 said...

I've always thought that the Kings get screwed because teams always play the Kings on Saturday (because they always play Saturday games) and play the Ducks on Sunday (because they always play Sunday games). Obviously, when teams play on two consecutive days, they are more tired for the second game. I'd be willing to bet that if it were the other way around, the Kings' winning percentage in such games would be higher and the Ducks' lower.

After this weekend, it would've happened four times already: the Hurricanes (lose to Kings in OT, beat Ducks two days later), the Red Wings (beat the Kings in SO, lose to Ducks in OT), and now the Canucks and Flames.

I don't know if it has something to do with the fact that teams fly into LAX for SoCal games, and obviously it doesn't make sense to have them travel 30 miles to play Anaheim, then come back to Los Angeles to play, or if the NHL just likes screwing the Kings.

I'm a season-ticket holder, yet I live 12 miles away from Honda Center, 25 miles away from Staples Center (in fact, I practically live on the same street as Honda Center). I've been to a few home-and-home games between the two teams, most recently the time where both the Kings and Ducks lost in a shootout on their home ice and won the road game, and it has never been a problem for me. These hockey players are 40x the man I am, I'm certain, so it shouldn't be any sort of problem for them, either.

Ksy92003 said...

As for the splits of teams playing the Kings or Ducks on one day, then playing the other two days later, do you have any information about the opponent playing the night before the first game, either against Phoenix, San Jose, or Colorado (the three most likely teams)?

Earl Sleek said...

Sucks for the Canuck who gets the 1/5 goal.

Actually I'm thinking each Sedin gets 0.1 goals.

I've always thought that the Kings get screwed because teams always play the Kings on Saturday (because they always play Saturday games) and play the Ducks on Sunday (because they always play Sunday games).

I haven't examined this year's schedule, but I know each of the last two Ducks seasons there has been exactly one Saturday home game per year.

If it's purely back-to-back, I think switching dates would help the Kings, but if it's two days apart, watch out. The Kings are getting murdered if opponents get a chance to recuperate.

do you have any information about the opponent playing the night before the first game, either against Phoenix, San Jose, or Colorado (the three most likely teams)?

Not in any handy format, no. All I looked at were the two game sets in a vacuum.

Ksy92003 said...

Looking at this year's schedule, the Kings play only one home game on a Sunday. That was the home opener, in the home-and-home with the Sharks. The Kings play 13 home games on Saturdays this year, including 7 straight (beginning tomorrow). Of those 13, if I counted right, the Ducks play that Kings' Saturday opponent the following night on 3 occasions (CBJ, MIN 2x).

All season long, the Kings play 4 games on Sundays. They only have 4 off-days on Saturdays; they play 23games on those days. That seems like a conspiracy to me.

Earl Sleek said...

Of those 13, if I counted right, the Ducks play that Kings' Saturday opponent the following night on 3 occasions (CBJ, MIN 2x).

Well, don't forget Calgary.

They only have 4 off-days on Saturdays; they play 23games on those days. That seems like a conspiracy to me.

I think you'd find a lot of teams go Saturday-heavy. It's certainly not unique to the Kings. As for the Ducks, I'd actually enjoy it if they did have more Saturday home games -- seems like a lucrative night to host a game.

It may be a conspiracy, but I don't know if the Ducks or the NHL are the ones to blame. If anything, I'd suspect it's something built into Anaheim's franchise charter. Possibly the Kings claimed ownership of Saturday for the region, and the Ducks had no choice except to follow on Sunday.

Ksy92003 said...

I think you'd find a lot of teams go Saturday-heavy. It's certainly not unique to the Kings. As for the Ducks, I'd actually enjoy it if they did have more Saturday home games -- seems like a lucrative night to host a game.

It does seem a bit suspicious that the Ducks don't play a single home game on a Saturday this year.

If anything, I'd suspect it's something built into Anaheim's franchise charter. Possibly the Kings claimed ownership of Saturday for the region

I don't know why the Kings would even think to host seven straight home games on Saturdays right at the end of the college football season, especially with USC just down the street. I think the Kings just have a "well, we're gonna suck this year, so might as well mask our pathetic hockey team with a USC rout of Washington" mentality.

Earl Sleek said...

It does seem a bit suspicious that the Ducks don't play a single home game on a Saturday this year.

And just to be clear, it's not just a "this year" phenomenon.

Since the lockout, the Ducks have hosted four Saturday regular season games (plus two more in the postseason). It's been a rarity for a long while.

Ksy92003 said...

Four games in four seasons, that's not a very high average.

But I suppose that, when it comes down to it, they still have to play the games, and they still have to earn the two points. And to that, I just pray that the Canucks and Flames can shut the Ducks out this weekend.

Earl Sleek said...

And to that, I just pray that the Canucks and Flames can shut the Ducks out this weekend.

Well, the Kings probably could have done a bit more to wear out or discourage the Canucks, that's for sure.

If L.A. wants to play welcome mat to the Honda Center, maybe the two-games-in-two-nights effect will be minimalized. :)

alanah said...

Your analysis is admittedly sound and compelling in favor of the Ducks... yet I refuse to succumb to hopelessness. Maybe Kyle Wellwood is our secret weapon...?! :)

Earl Sleek said...

At most, Kyle Wellwood is included in this spreadsheet once, and I don't even want to research that any further.

He totally could be the secret weapon.

Incidentally, the two teams that have pulled off successive wins in Staples-then-Honda Center were the Stars (once in 2 tries) and the Red Wings (once in 4 tries), so it's lofty company.

Julian said...

It does seem a bit suspicious that the Ducks don't play a single home game on a Saturday this year.

We need room in the sched for all those Michael Bolton and Celine Dion concerts.

Oh, and Disney on Ice, apparently.

Temujin said...

You owe me a Green Canuck shirt, muthaf$#%^&!!!!!

Wooooooo!!!!!

Temujin said...

Heh, I have hardly any recollection of leaving that comment above.

Sean Zandberg said...

In the case of the Canucks, they are better off playing the Kings first and then beating the Quacks in a shootout taking 4 possible points out of a California road trip.
Insane game. Maybe Carlisle shouldn't have given the day off the previous day..... Oh, the variables in statistics!