Ranking the 5 NHL Teams with the Greatest Playoff Home-Ice Advantage
The defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings have had one of the NHL's best home-ice records thus far in 2012-13, but will that give them the greatest home-ice advantage in the playoffs? The top four seeds in each conference will control home ice throughout the first round of playoffs, and starting and ending a series at home can be a great advantage.
Last season, the Los Angeles Kings were able to get things done primarily on the road, but history shows that home ice can be valuable. While Nassau Coliseum is a shell of its former glory, it was dubbed "Fort Neverlose" during the New York Islanders' dynasty days because it was almost impossible to defeat the Islanders on home ice.
With the playoffs around the corner, here is a look at the top five NHL playoff teams with the greatest home-ice advantage.
The Pittsburgh Penguins currently have the fourth best home-ice record in the NHL at 17-6-0. The Penguins also have been one of the NHL's top teams at home the past few years with a regular-season record of 69-29-4 since 2010. The Consol Energy Center is a loud building always full of energy, and it is very electric during the playoffs.
However, the Penguins are excluded from the top five because they haven't played well at home during the playoffs since their new arena opened. The Pens are 2-5 at the Consol Energy Center during the playoffs, and they will look to improve upon that this season. This year they should have a very healthy lineup so maybe their fortunes will change.
The Capitals' Verizon Center is one of the loudest arenas in the NHL, and it can be intimidating for the road team to play in. The Capitals' fanbase is known for "rocking the red" during the playoffs, and the overall atmosphere can become overwhelming. Throughout the game Sam Wolk, the Caps' horn guy, gets the crowd going by prompting cheers.Things only escalate once the Capitals score the because the building becomes absolutely deafening. During the first round the Caps will have home-ice advantage and that is something they will hope to take advantage of.
San Jose Sharks
HP Pavilion, known by fans as the Shark Tank, is a loud arena that contains many intense fans. This season the Sharks have been one of the best teams at home, and their record of 17-2-5 is one of the best in the NHL. Although the Sharks historically have not been able to get the job done in the playoffs, it is no picnic trying to steal a game at the Shark Tank.
No. 5: Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins have the sixth-best home-ice record in the NHL at 15-4-3, and they are a team that benefits from a boost their crowd gives them. TD Garden is an arena that has a great fan atmosphere, and that has been evident during the Bruins' surge back into the Northeast Division lead.
During the last few playoffs TD Garden has been a tough building to play in, and that was very evident during the 2010-11 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Fans in Boston have a lot to cheer about when it comes to the Bruins, and expect them to make it hard for the opposition to remain focused during the playoffs.
No. 4: Los Angeles Kings
The Staples Center was extremely loud and full of energy when the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup on home ice last season. With a record of 18-4-1, the Kings have been one of the best home teams in the 2012-13.
Last season, the Kings posted a record of 6-3 on home ice throughout the playoffs, and the team received an big boost from the home crowd. This year the Kings have the chance to control home ice for the first round, and that should be a huge advantage for the reigning Cup champs.
No. 3: Anaheim Ducks
The Anaheim Ducks had one of the best playoff runs in NHL history when they won the Stanley Cup in 2006-07 with a record of 16-5. During that span the Ducks posted a 10-2 record in games played at the Honda Center.
This season the Ducks have the fifth-best home record in the league, and they have gone 16-6-1. Fans love watching playoff hockey in Anaheim, and beating the Ducks at home during the playoffs will be tough.
When you consider that this could be Teemu Selanne's last run in the playoffs, playoffs will be special in Anaheim this season.
No. 2: Montreal Canadiens
The Bell Centre has always been one of the toughest buildings for a road team to play in, and the hometown atmosphere gives the Montreal Canadiens a huge home-ice advantage. This year the Habs have been one of the best Eastern Conference teams at home with a record of 14-7-3. The atmosphere of a regular-season game in Montreal is usually electric, but it is amplified during the playoffs.
The Canadiens have made a major improvement in their play over the last season, and the Bell Centre crowd is going to give them a huge boost in the playoffs. If the playoffs started today, the Habs would face the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, and that series would be fa guaranteed blockbuster for fan intensity and interaction.
No. 1: Chicago Blackhawks
The "Mad House on Madison" has been one of the loudest arenas over the past few years, and it was rocking like crazy during the 2009-10 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This season the Chicago Blackhawks have been one of the NHL's top teams on home ice, and their record of 17-3-3 is third overall in the NHL. The now demolished Chicago Stadium used to be one of the loudest buildings in the NHL, but the United Center has done a good job living up the history of the Blackhawks' former home.
During the playoffs the Hawks will maintain home-ice advantage throughout the Western Conference, and if all goes well, the United Center will be blasting "Chelsea Dagger" early and often.