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Vulgar Statistics: Home Ice Advantage IV: Extra Time

08/30/11
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This is quite clearly the fourth 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.

Today we’re here to talk about overtime and the shootout, which is fun because who doesn’t like taking a look at how teams perform when the game is on the line?

Again, there really isn’t any correlation between teams performing well at home and the makeup of their crowds, some teams just have that extra edge.  What’s interesting is some of the data that has come to light on the side of doing this study.

Not only has Calgary been a relatively high scoring team since the lockout, but they also have one of the best goaltenders in the game in Mikka Kipprusoff.  You’d think that those two would lead to a pretty good performance in overtime, but they’ve been awful.  (Of course some of that is probably explained by the fact that overtime is 4 on 4 and not quite the same as regulation play.)  On the other end of that spectrum, New Jersey with Martin Brodeur, and Vancouver with a solid offense and Roberto Luongo have been fantastic overtime teams since the lockout.

But enough about overtime, everyone likes the shootout better, right?  Anyways take a look at that number at the bottom.  You’re reading that correctly, home teams are terrible in the shootout.  They were a disturbingly bad 58-91 last season alone.  Whether this is because of the shooters or the goalies is hard to tell.  Shooting pct. and save pct. impact each other directly so you can’t really say which is leading the charge.  If I had to put my finger on something I would theorize that teams tend to play their backup netminders on the road and there’s less of a book on those guys making them harder to beat in the shootout, but that feels like a big reach to me.  Others have theorized about the pressure of having so much depend on something so small (and so easy to spectacularly screw up, right Ilya Kovalchuk?) in front of your home fans, but that too seems like a reach.

Final Thoughts:

I can totally see home crowds giving their team a bit of a boost in overtime.  With that kind of noise behind you, it’s hard to not want to go balls to the wall (note: an aviation term) to win the game while actual hockey is being played.  The shootout is a different animal.  Like I said, when you biff an attempt (or a save) in the shootout, often you don’t just look bad, you look really bad.  And that’s the enduring memory fans have of that game if your team doesn’t come out on top.  That’s a tough thing to be able to stare down.

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