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Making Hay While the Sun Shines

After the first nine games of the season the Thrashers sit in 2nd place in the East and 1st in the SE Division. Yet, I'm not doing handstands or clearing my spring schedule for playoff tickets just yet. Why? The schedule has been very favorable so far and it will get much tougher in the future.

For example, I took the Thrashers schedule by month and looked at which months the Thrashers face teams that made the playoffs last season. You can see that October is tied with December for the month with the fewest 05/06 playoff teams faced. In fact, January and February looks down right brutal, especially FEB with 75% playoff qualifiers.

OCT 46%
NOV 57%
DEC 46%
JAN 61%
FEB 75%
MAR 53%

I took a second look at the strength of schedule in which I classify all Thrashers opponents into three groups: 1 (finished in the top 5 in the conference), 2 (finished in the middle third of the conference), 3 (finished in the bottom third in the conference). Then I averaged them for each month. A score of 2.0 means a month with an average strength of schedule, a number below 2.0 indicates a more difficult schedule and a score above 2.0 and easier than normal schedule.

Strength of Schedule for the Thrashers (based on 05-06 opposition records)
OCT 2.23 Easier
NOV 2.00 Average
DEC 2.31 Easier
JAN 1.85 Harder
FEB 1.66 Harder
MAR 2.00 Average

Again the data demonstrate that the Thrashers face a favorable schedule in the first half of the season and a very tough schedule after New Years Day. It is very important that the Thrashers continue to rack up the points early on because a swoon in early 2007 seems to be extremely likely based on the quality of opposition.