Following the release of the 2022-23 NHL schedule, we’ve compared the difficulty of each team’s opening games and their early-season record.
Colorado Avalanche will be defending their Stanley Cup title after denying Tampa Bay Lightning a hat-trick of victories.
Who has the toughest opening schedule?
We’ve used our latest Stanley Cup odds to assess the strength of each team’s opponents in the first 10 games of the regular season.
The Calgary Flames have a tough start in the Pacific Division this term, with five of their first seven games pitting them against one of the strongest teams in the NHL.
Over in the Central Division, it’s the Winnipeg Jets who could struggle early on, as they face four strong opponents and another three above-average ones in their first nine games.
Moving over to the Eastern Conference, don’t be surprised if the New York Islanders are off the pace early on as they face five tough opponents among their first nine.
The Ottawa Senators are the only team in the Atlantic Division who face four of the strongest teams in their opening 10 games, along with three other solid opponents, so they could also start slowly.
Who has the easiest opening schedule?
There’s a gentle introduction for the Vegas Golden Knights, with no other team in the Western Conference facing four outsiders in their first 10 games.
In the Central Division, we could see a strong start from the Nashville Predators, who only have one tricky encounter in their opening seven fixtures.
On the other side of the country, the New Jersey Devils could also start well, with three of their first five games pitting them against a weak opponent.
We should also see a strong early showing from the Toronto Maple Leafs, who play seven weak teams in their first 10 games – including four priced at 100/1 or longer for the cup.
Who performs better in their early games?
We’ve looked back over the previous decade to determine which teams tend to perform better than usual in their first 10 games of a season.
The Vancouver Canucks tend to start seasons much better than they finish them, with a 53% win ratio in the opening 10 games dropping below 44% over the remainder of the campaign.
Fellow Canadians – and Pacific Division competitors – the Calgary Flames have often done the opposite, seeing a disappointing 43% average win rate rise to almost 52% once their opening 10 games are out of the way.
Over in the Eastern Conference, the New York Rangers enjoy the NHL’s biggest bounce after the early part of the season, having averaged a 45% win rate in the first 10 games but seeing this rise to almost 55% thereafter.
Conversely, the Atlantic Division’s Montreal Canadiens suffer the biggest average slump, with a 59% win rate collapsing to just over 46% from the 11th game of the season onwards.
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