Vulgar Statistics: Home Field Advantage I: Winning
This will be the first in a multi-part series that takes a look at home field 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.
All I really wanted to do here was take a look at point totals to see who was faring conspicuously better on the road, and who was only faring marginally better. Since my method was pretty simple, I can just beat you over the head with a chart right away.
Not surprisingly the teams with the most home and away wins are the teams that have generally had the best records since the lockout. Where things get real interesting is the differential between home and away games. Every team fared better overall at home than they did on the road, which is good. I hate to see teams routinely crap the bed in front of their fans (looking at you Sabres).
It also doesn’t come as a surprise that the teams with the biggest home field advantage are generally the teams in the Western Conference that make their opponents travel the most. From the far north (Calgary), to the marginally west (Nashville and Minnesota), it’s very understandable that these teams are often able to take advantage of tired and jet lagged opponents.
What’s bizarre is that the best Eastern Conference teams in terms of home ice advantage via wins and points, New York (I), New Jersey, Florida and Carolina, are four of the worst teams in terms of attendance. (They’re 30th, 28th, 26th, and 24th respectively since the lockout.) New York and New Jersey in particular barely make their opponents travel at all. The only explanation I can muster (and it’s not a good one) is that those destinations cause their opponents to lose focus because there’s so much to do that isn’t hockey. Not to knock the cities of the worst three in each conference (Boston, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Detroit, Edmonton and Phoenix), but in all six there isn’t much to do besides focus on the game.
I’m at a bit of a loss to explain any of this. In short, you’ve got a mix of everything, everywhere. There are good and bad teams together, northern and southern markets, full houses and empty shells of concrete. The main thing I see is in looking at the four worst teams, Philadelphia, Boston, Buffalo, and Detroit. Altogether they’ve had a good deal of success since the lockout and fairly stable core players, which would lead to a more methodical approach and less differential between home and away performances. I think that the more experience you have playing and playing with your teammates, the more you’re able to stick to your routine from game to game. Other than that, I got nothing.