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.

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