I have a new obsession. Fantasy hockey. The slot-machine-like dopamine hit when you get lucky mixed with the numbers-heavy analysis of trying to squeeze the most out of each week has really got me hooked.
So I thought I’d put all this analysis to use by practicing my visual display of quantitative data.
I’m about to go into fantasy hockey playoffs and I’ve been doing a bunch of number crunching, focusing on the schedules of various NHL teams. The idea is that if I pick up half-decent players who play a lot of games in a given week, they’ll score me more points than great players who have a bad schedule.
Two of my great players, Taylor Hall and Dustin Byfuglien, have been dealing with long-term injuries lately, so my only hope at winning is to maximize my games played.
To do that, I need to pick up players from teams who not only play the most games, but also play on quieter “off nights”. Here’s the logic I used.
- Any day where 20 or more out of the NHL’s 31 teams play is a busy night.
- Fewer than 20, I call an off night, because chances are, you won’t have too many benched players on those nights.
My favorite podcast, Fantasy Hockey Podcast, does a great job at highlighting the teams with the best and worst schedules each week, but I wanted to know well in advance and I wanted to see all the teams.
So I made this.
Schedule comparison charts- 2019 fantasy hockey playoffs
Starting with my league’s quarterfinals (March 4-10), I made a chart that breaks down every team’s schedule into off nights and busy nights.
As you can see in the chart above, Anaheim (ANA) and Calgary (CGY) have the best schedules, with 3 “off nights” and 1 “busy night” each. I’d better load up on Ducks and Flames!
Actually, sorry Anaheim, but you’re terrible. I’d better load up on Flames.
Teams like Chicago (CHI), Nashville (NAS), and San Jose (SJS) have the worst schedules, with 2 “busy nights” each and no “off nights”. That means that players from Calgary are at least twice as valuable as players from Chicago this week.
One thing that this chart doesn’t take into account is the strength of opponents or back-to-back games. I haven’t checked, but if both of Chicago’s games are against a terrible team like Anaheim who are tired because they’re on the second game in two nights, then maybe I shouldn’t completely write off Chicago players. Or if Calgary is playing only against top-tier teams, then maybe I shouldn’t jump right on them.
I made the same charts for Semifinals as well:
In the second week of March, my league’s semifinals, the New Jersey Devils (NJD) have the best schedule. Stay away from the LA Kings (LAK)! And the Ducks… even though they have the second-best schedule… because they’re the Ducks.
And here’s the same chart for the finals.
This week, try to stay away from the New York Rangers. The Vancouver Canucks and the Washington Capitals will treat you well.
Final three weeks combined
This felt less-useful for me because there isn’t as stark of a difference between the best and worst schedules, but I also created a chart for the final three weeks combined.
Once again, Anaheim comes up on top in terms of schedule. I’d still urge you to stay away from them because they’re Anaheim. Stay away from Nashville as well!
What do you think?
Fantasy hockey enthusiasts: Is this useful for you? What might make it more useful? Let me know in the comments!
Friends and family: You probably already knew I was a nerd, but not THIS big of a nerd. I’m sorry you had to find out this way. If you want to unfriend me, I understand.
Appendix: My process
I started by grabbing the NHL schedule in Google Sheets format then doing a bunch of formulas and conditional formatting.
I then got to sketching on paper, which helped me figure out what was important (total games, off nights, and busy nights) vs. what was just noise (the actual days of the week of games).
Then I messed around more in Google Sheets, calculating, sorting, slicing and dicing.
After that, it was just a matter of playing with the chart configuration and styling.
As you can see in the above screenshot, I also used Sheets to generate alt text for my graphics. This means that even vision-impaired users will be able to read this blog post!
If I had more time, I’d shine up the charts by exporting them into Sketch and removing some of the non-essential visual elements. But I don’t!
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