In the Stanley Cup playoffs, there’s a frequent chorus spouted by NHL gamers: there’s nothing like enjoying at house.
“We won a lot of hockey games at home and we’re real comfortable in this building,” Jets captain Blake Wheeler mentioned earlier than the Western Conference finals started. “We play with confidence in here.”
When the sequence shifted again to Vegas for Game three, Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland mentioned: “It’s huge. We have a great atmosphere here at T-Mobile with all the fans. We got to feed off that.”
Or, as Golden Knights defenseman Colin Miller mentioned: “Playing on your home ice is a big, big thing in the playoffs, I think.”
There’s just one downside, and maybe Miller is correct in his trepidation: house-ice advantage is not actually an advantage this 12 months.
Entering Thursday, house groups are 34-39 in these playoffs. That win proportion of .466 could be the second-worst win proportion in the post-1967 growth period. (In 2012, house groups went 39-47, which is .453). The Golden Knights, for the report, have the greatest house mark, at 6-1.
While scoring at house is up — house groups are averaging three.03 targets per sport, the highest charge since 1996 — there have been 28 video games the place house groups have given up 4 or extra targets. That solely occurred 17 instances in all of final 12 months’s playoffs.
And when the sport is shut, house groups simply aren’t closing it out. Hosts are 7-16 in one-aim video games this postseason. The final postseason to have single-digit such wins was 1981, when there have been 9. Any theories why?
“No idea. None. I really don’t,” Jets coach Paul Maurice mentioned. “It may well be parity more than anything else. There used to be a huge matchup advantage. Maybe it’s the structure — I haven’t done the math — of the playoff format where you’re getting pretty powerful teams lining up against each other early. No, other than the fact that the kids that come into the game now have become used to big stages, big performances, loud buildings at a younger age; maybe it doesn’t faze them. That’s the best I got.”
That Maurice would not imagine there’s a large matchup advantage anymore is one thing to look at; the choice for final change is tactically house ice’s solely advantage. Other generally cited house ice advantage elements vary from the crowd’s trolling of opponents, akin to Winnipegians yelling “We need Subban!” to Marc-Andre Fleury, to the advantages of sleeping in one’s personal mattress.
Interestingly, in Winnipeg’s second-spherical sequence towards the Nashville Predators — in which house groups received simply twice — there wasn’t a ton of line maneuvering.
“I thought in the Nashville series, [Nashville coach Peter Laviolette and I] both kind of agreed about 10 minutes into the game that we were both fine with the matchup,” Maurice mentioned. “Hence, we alternated.”
Retired winger Martin St. Louis chimed in his opinion on Twitter:
My opinion- I take advantage of to like enjoying on the highway as a result of most of my coaches would not fear about matching strains as a result of they did not have the final change-I all the time felt I performed extra on the highway. Checkers on the highway, chess at house! I like each however checkers is extra enjoyable! @NHL https://t.co/sARDNByDlp
— Martin St.Louis (@mstlouis_26) May 16, 2018
As the groups dwindle down, Jets defenseman Ben Chiarot thinks it issues much less.
“At this point in the playoffs, anyone can play against anybody,” Chiarot mentioned. “It’s the four best teams in the league, so everyone is confident in their depth and who they have out there. So matchups and last change don’t matter as much.”
Chiarot was conscious of the stats relating to house workforce’s dropping data this postseason and was flabbergasted by it.
“It’s crazy, and honestly, I have no idea why it’s like that,” he mentioned.
The Jets’ second-spherical sequence towards the Predators noticed a hyped-up environment in each groups’ arenas.
“Especially in the Nashville series we played, those are two of the craziest, loudest rinks,” Chiarot mentioned earlier than Game three in Vegas. “I know when I go to somebody else’s rink, and it’s a loud rink like Nashville, you’re more tense and more focused and sharp. You make the quicker or simpler play, as opposed to when you’re more looser and relaxed and sometimes you hold onto it for an extra second.”
More than 2,00zero miles away in Tampa, Lightning ahead Alex Killorn provided one thing comparable.
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“I think once you’re on the road you tend to keep things more simple,” Killorn mentioned. “It’s just a more simple hockey game. You don’t want to force things, tend it keep it simple early in the game and there are certain things that you just don’t know — there’s reasons why you play better on the road.”
For Lightning coach Jon Cooper, it is all about the larger image — or fairly, the probability to get the final lick.
“Home-ice advantage is Game 7, that’s what it is for me,” Cooper mentioned. “If you’re going to advance in the playoffs you have to win on the road at some point. To me it’s all about you get to play four games where you get the last change, but ultimately it comes down to Game 7. Other than that, I don’t think it matters where you play the games at any other time. It can go 3-3 and it all ends up being Game 7.”
Home groups are 100-71 in Game 7s. Naturally, this season, in the two Game 7 eventualities to this point — Boston versus Toronto in Round 1 and Nashville versus Winnipeg in Round 2 — house groups are 1-1.
Senior author Greg Wyshynski contributed to this report.