Is home ice advantage really an advantage anymore?
With the great battles going on for division leads and home ice advantage in the playoffs, it sorta made me wonder: is home ice advantage really an advantage anymore?
Here's a few reasons why it might not:
1) Community functions distract from focusing on hockey
2) Family distractions
3) Most new arenas are built basically the same and there aren't really any quirks specific to each building. Before, arenas had different sized ice surfaces(varied by a foot or two, not significant). They also had different boards so the pucks bounced differently off of them and slits in the boards cause the puck to bounce weirdly. New buildings have everything basically the same. The dressing rooms are the same, the ice surface size is the same, the boards are the same. Basically the only thing different is the ice, partly due to the environment(like the thin air of Colorado or the worse quality ice the further south you go due to the warm temperatures) and partly due to the knowledge of the ice makers. Teams don't really have to change their game to adapt to the arena anymore, just to the opponent on the ice.
As a result of all of this, a team can have a really good road record, and not having one means you might not be an elite team anymore. So is home ice advantage really an advantage anymore? If so, what really makes it home ice advantage now? The fans? If it's not an advantage, is the difference in getting home ice advantage really that big of a deal?
Personally, though... if I was a player I'd play better on the road. It's just so much more exciting to sleep in the hotel with the boys and go out at night to find the best bars in a new city... at home, you've seen it all... same old arena... same old stuff...
I wish the mile high air actually made it tough for teams to play in Colorado. It obviously makes no difference, since the Avalanche haven't really been good at home since 2000-'01. Athletes today are in so much better shape than they were even 15 to 20 years ago. The altitude is nothing to these guys.
I'd love to see an NHL retro building movement like MLB baseball has gone through since Camden Yards was built. All these new arenas are basically the same, it's starting to resemble the 1970's when every baseball team seemed to play in a cookie cutter oval like Veterans Stadium, Three Rivers Stadium, and Riverfront Park.
I miss watching games from the Aud, the Forum, Chicago Stadium, Boston Garden etc.
Of course there is an advantage. If you play 4 7-game series over the course of the playoffs, as the home team you get 4 extra games. That can lead to revenues of 10,000,000 that you wouldn't otherwise have. Which could translate to better free agent pick ups, etc.
No. I'd much rather try to split the opening of a series than have to take a 2-0 lead.
If you're worried about that, you're already a losing team. That means you can't handle pressure, must be an underdog so the pressure is always on the other team, you'll choke because you're tied 1-1 heading to the other teams rink, etc.
Someone mentioned it before, but I'll reiterate it. Home ice is extremely important because of the line change rule. That rule states that the home team gets the last line change before the puck drops. Thus, the home coach can be guaranteed he gets the matchups he wants when the puck is dropped.
Let's say the Wings are playing the Avs in Game 7 of the WCF and Colorado's goalie isn't so bummed about his infamous Statue of Liberty play that he actually shows up to stop the puck. It's 2-2 with 5 minutes left in the third. Granato sends out a line of Forsberg centering Hedjuk and Tanguay to take the faceoff in the Wings zone. Dave Lewis, seeing what Granato has sent out, now can adjust his lines to get him the best possible matchup. He may decide to send out Yzerman between Maltby and McCarty. Yzerman is one of the league's top face off men and Maltby is one of the few players in the league that can cover Forsberg one-on-one. This gives Detroit a slight but important edge in the game. Often during the playoffs you'll see the visiting team immediately change up the lines after the puck is dropped to minimize this advantage to the home team.
Now many of today's coaches do not know how to fully utilize this advantage. Scotty Bowman was a master of getting the best players on the ice for every matchup possible. Lemaire is also great at it. Granato and Crawford are maybe among the worst in the league and lose the home ice advantage for their teams.
- Home ice in a seven game series only matters come Game #7.
- Home ice is not an advantage until one team wins one on the road.
Personally, see modest advantage in home ice, based on watching a million playoff series over the years. Steal one on the road to start a series and you can be off and running.
Its kind of bizarre to think that Philly, Toronto, Tampa Bay, Ottawa and Boston are going to bloody themselves trying to capture the first seed in the Conference, only to potentially lose the home ice advantage in a matter of the first 60 minutes of the playoffs to a team with approx. 20 less points overall over the season.
Might be fairer (and it might create even more competition) to award the top two teams pointwise a five games to two advantage in the first round.
1st seed v. 8th seed: 5 home games v. 2
2nd v. 7th: 5 v. 2
3rd v. 6th: 4 v. 3
4th v. 5th: 4 v. 3.
younger players imo are more affected and can be easily swayed. a good play and cheers will fuel them to drive at winning harder while some boos might be able to throw them off their game. imo that is why veteran leadership and experience matters so much. a team like detroit, no matter how much the canucks fans booed at chelios and yzerman, they still managed to play undisturbed and were very consistent throughout the series.
Look at the beginning of the Flyers eason. If your in the Philly area, there were these commercials with Ken Hitchcock talking about Home Ice Advantage. It was this big ad campaign and everyone thought it weas really stupid. Then the flyers went on to win their first 15 home games (i think it was 15).