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12-26-2006, 04:25 PM
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Location: Murfreesboro, Tn.
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a very random idea for thought this morning...

team's play better at home, we all know that. much better. for example, as of this morning, the 15 teams in the west are a combined 160-84-25 at home this year (a .641 winning percentage). on the road, these same 15 teams are a combined 111-132-19 (only a .458 winning percentage). so, in general, a team has about a 20% greater chance of winning any specific game at home than they do on the road. statistically, this is a huge difference of course.

but why?...

obviously there are three main reasons that we are all conscious of that make a team better at home than on the road. 1)last change, probably the biggest advantage a home team has of course. allows the home team to choose matchups they want after every stop in play. this accounts for most of the reason the home team is slightly better even strength at home. 2)faceoffs. the home team gains a slight advantage in that the visitor has to place his stick on the ice first. in general the home team wins a slightly higher % of faceoffs than they do on the road (not really significantly statistically however). 3)then of course you have the motivational factor of playing before your home fans, the increase in comfort and energy that is huge, if largely unquantifiable in hard numbers.

these three things are fairly easy to understand. in general these things apply more to difference in even strength performance of the home team versus the road team when you stop and think about it.

however, the thing that has always been the biggest mystery to me about home/road performance in general is really seperate from these things. special teams. you would assume that the home team 'gets' more calls than the visitors as far as penalties what with refs being human, and they do. home teams draw slightly more penalties than visiting teams, so home teams in general get slightly more pp's per game than the visitors, but the number difference is not as large as you would think.

one of the main differences in home/road success winds up being performance of teams special teams at home versus on the road. raw percentages of the pp and and the pk lean heavily toward the home team. an area that somewhat defies pure logic, but one that historically has always been. you can see where even strength home energy and emotion would make a big difference, but it would seem that special teams should be a slightly different animal, but it isn't.

take the pp for instance. at home, our pp is at 22.6%. on the road it falls to 14.8%. this isn't a statistical anomaly either. 23 of the 30 teams have a significantly higher pp% at home than on the road.

the pk is the same of course. we happen to have very similiar numbers on the pk at home as we do on the road. 85.3% at home, versus 85.3% on the road. but this isn't the league norm. 22 of the 30 teams in the league have a significantly lower pk% on the road than at home. (in fact, our pk being far better than most on the road is probably one of the main reasons we've been an outstanding road team).

i know hockey, i've worked at understanding hockey and what makes teams good and what statistics mean for many years. this difference in home/road special team performance has always been one of the harder areas for me to completely grasp. part of it, is no doubt raw emotion. part of it is the slight difference in faceoffs (more important on special teams than even strength). but these differences don't completely explain the difference in home/road special team performance to me.

anyway something different to mention and talk about.

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