On the whole home ice thing, which dovetailed in the previous thread, I posted something elsewhere which has some relevance.
Home ice currently is virtually meaningless, which means that the regular season is virtually meaningless. Linked below is a pretty good article that makes that point looking at the five playoff years between 2006 and 2010, and makes a pretty compelling stat based argument that right now it does not much matter if you are the home or away team. Here is the conclusion, but the article is worth reading:
After all that, what really remains is one simple question: is “home ice advantage” really an advantage? I think it’s fairly clear that, when examined globally, which arena hosts a game is not a reliable predictor of who is more likely to win the game. In virtually every case I examined, the difference between playing at home or away results in outcomes that are similar to a coin toss, with one minor exception – if you’re going to lose a series, there’s a slightly better chance that you will do so at home, in front of your own, very disappointed fans.