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Late Vulgar Statistics: Home Ice Advantage II: Goal Scoring

08/20/11
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Ed. Note: This was supposed to be published last week but technical difficulties kept it delayed until now. Enjoy!

This is the second in a multi-part series that takes a look at home ice advantage from the lockout to the present.  I will track a variety of statistics for each team in the NHL, compare their home and away totals and then make snap judgments about them.

I kept things pretty simple this week as well.  I tracked goals scored and goals allowed since the lockout by each team at home and on the road.  I then subtracted the away totals from the home totals, so a high overall number in goals scored means the team scored a lot more in their own building and a high negative overall number in goals allowed means they allowed far fewer goals in their own building.

I took the liberty of highlighting the best and worst three in each conference.  Like last week, things are very intriguing.  If you look at the best teams in terms of potting goals at home, Anaheim, Buffalo, Florida, Minnesota, New Jersey, Vancouver, and Washington, you’ve got a pretty good mix of atmospheres and crowd sizes.  And it’s not as if some of those crowds aren’t quick to get on a team with boos if they aren’t playing well (which I think is a big hindrance to effective play if it’s happening while play is occurring).  It has to be distracting and deflating when your own fans are letting you have it as you bring the puck up the ice.

When you look at the worst teams in terms of enhanced home goal scoring, this theory looks a bit more credible.  Boston, Chicago (the last three years), Edmonton, St. Louis (the last four years), and Toronto all have pretty raucous crowds (and Tampa Bay (the first three years) has had seasons where it was no slouch), and with that comes a certain harshness when the team isn’t playing well.  (Although Philadelphia is surprisingly absent.)

On the flip side of things, an energetic crowd seems to play havoc on the opposition’s ability to score.  Calgary, Chicago, and Pittsburgh are full almost every night, and Nashville and Tampa bay have a small but intense group of die hard fans.  (And the Islanders suck.)  When you move down the line to the other teams that did a good job of playing defense at home, Minnesota, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, St. Louis, and Washington, that theory starts to look pretty good.  At least until it’s struck down a little bit by Buffalo’s, Detroit’s, and Philadelphia’s presences at the bottom.

Final Thoughts:

After two weeks of minimal correlation between anything, I’ll admit that I may just be wasting my efforts here.  I’m looking at a very small period of time in which most team’s rosters have stayed fairly consistent.  What may matter most is the makeup of a given team more so than their building or the makeup of their home crowd.  Certain players are very comfortable playing on the road and don’t see a drop in production and others are not and do.  Still, I think it’s a really interesting thing to take a look at, and it beats the heck out of watching preseason football.

Coming next week: Home Ice Advantage III: Special Teams

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