Although all three division winners in the Eastern Conference failed to take advantage of their home ice in the playoffs, playing in front of a rabid fan base gives teams an edge.
Late last season, the Atlanta Thrashers were facing the Boston Bruins on the brink of their second postseason in franchise history.
Even after the Ilya Kovalchuk fallout that resulted in their franchise player departing to New Jersey, the Thrash looked ready to take advantage of a weak Eastern Conference.
However, despite offering heavily-discounted tickets, the Atlanta natives—who have been tormented with the loss of All-Stars Marian Hossa, Marc Savard, Dany Heatley, and, most recently, Kovalchuk —failed to show.
Described by one reporter as quieter than the local library, the team had no momentum in the game and were shut out 4-0, essentially ending their playoff hopes.
On the other hand, the Montreal Canadiens, backed by their loyal fans, were able to take advantage of their home ice advantage (Bell Centre capacity: 21,273) and go on a Cinderella run as an 8-seed in the playoffs.
In the West, Chicago capitalized its rejuvenated fan base and got the United Center (22,428 with standing room) behind on its way to the franchise's first Stanley Cup victory in 49 years.
In the following slides, all 30 NHL fan bases are ranked by their ability to create home-ice advantage.