Within the Stanley Cup playoffs, there is a widespread chorus spouted by NHL gamers: There’s nothing like enjoying at residence.
“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 Convention finals started. “We play with confidence in here.”
When the collection shifted again to Vegas for Sport 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 true in his trepidation: House-ice benefit is not actually a bonus this 12 months.
Coming into Thursday, residence groups are 34-39 in these playoffs. That win share of .466 can be the second-worst win share within the post-1967 growth period. (In 2012, residence groups went 39-47, which is .453). The Golden Knights, for the file, have the perfect residence mark, at 6-1.
Whereas scoring at house is up — residence groups are averaging three.03 objectives per sport, the very best price since 1996 — there have been 28 video games the place residence groups have given up 4 or extra objectives. That solely occurred 17 occasions in all of final 12 months’s playoffs.
And when the sport is shut, residence groups simply aren’t closing it out. Hosts are 7-16 in one-goal 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 does not imagine there’s a huge matchup benefit anymore is one thing to look at; the choice for final change is tactically residence ice’s solely benefit. Different generally cited home-ice benefit components vary from the group’s trolling of opponents, corresponding to Winnipegians yelling “We wish Subban!” to Marc-Andre Fleury, to the advantages of sleeping in a single’s personal mattress.
Apparently, in Winnipeg’s second-round collection in opposition to the Nashville Predators — during which residence groups gained 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 exploit to like enjoying on the highway as a result of most of my coaches would not fear about matching traces 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 residence! I like each however checkers is extra enjoyable! @NHL https://t.co/sARDNByDlp
— Martin St.Louis (@mstlouis_26) Could 16, 2018
Because 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 concerning residence group’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-round collection in opposition to 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 Sport 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.”
Greater than 2,000 miles away in Tampa, Lightning ahead Alex Killorn supplied 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 concerning the larger image — or slightly, the prospect 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.”
House groups are 100-71 in Sport 7s. Naturally, this season, within the two Sport 7 eventualities up to now — Boston versus Toronto in Spherical 1 and Nashville versus Winnipeg in Spherical 2 — residence groups are 1-1.
Senior author Greg Wyshynski contributed to this report.