For all of the teams in the playoffs, they know that they'll have to play well at home to win their series. Whether you're an eight seed or a one seed, several home wins are nearly vital for a victory in the best-of-seven series.
However, you'll almost certainly have to win at least one game on the road, as well. With this in mind, you're only left to hope that you won't be making trips to, say, Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, the Shark Tank in San Jose or Madison Square Garden in New York to face their respective teams.
Yet, perhaps you shouldn't be worried at all about visiting those arenas. Perhaps the Staples Center in Los Angeles or the Bridgestone Center in Nashville are, in fact, much tougher places to play the home team.
Indeed, in our fairly simple system, we make some interesting conclusions on the rankings of each postseason team's home-ice advantage. The system has two parts: 1) attendance, not by percentage of arena filled but by numbers alone, since that's what is making the noise; 2) the percentage of a team's wins that came at home, instead of the mere home record, which always makes the best teams look like they play the best at home.
"And why is that a problem?," you ask. Well, the quality of your opponent has already been settled—it's determined by your own seed. However, when doing the analysis of each opponent, a better indicator would be how well they performed at home compared to on the road, rather than how they perform at home compared to other teams. That's just another indicator of how good they are.
Points are awarded for both categories of the system: The winner of each category gets 16 points in our imaginary points system, second place gets 15, and all the way down to last place getting one. Each team's points in the two categories added together creates their "Home Ice Advantage Score," which is how these rankings have been ordered.
So let's get to it.
Total Points: 7
While this system finished with some surprising results, one of the less shocking ones is that, yes indeed, the Coyotes are last.
They finished far behind all other playoff teams in attendance with just 12,208 on average per game, a mere 71.3 percent of the arena's capacity. That number is also second worst in the entire NHL. In performance at home, the Coyotes were slightly higher, ranked 11th, but still saw less than half of their wins (48.8 percent of them) come at Jobing.com Arena.
With their one point for attendance and six points for performance, Phoenix finished, by several points, in last place. After another loss to Detroit Monday, this time at home, the 'Yotes will need to win at least their next few Jobing.com Arena games to stay alive in the playoffs.
Total Points: 10
How can the Bruins come in a tie for second-to-last place in home-ice advantage? The fourth-lowest home performance versus overall performance ratio (just 47.8 percent of victories came in Boston) and, despite filling an average of 99.7 percent of their maximum capacity at each game, the sixth-lowest average attendance, leveling out at about 17,500 per game.
Their struggles on home ice have also already cost them in their first-round series, as they dropped both home games to fall to a 2-0 series deficit to mere No. 6-seed Montreal. Despite winning in Montreal Monday evening, they'll now need to win both remaining home games and also get another timely win in the Bell Centre (keep reading to find out where it ranks...) to stay alive for another day.
Total Points: 10
If you were surprised when you saw the Bruins down here, you're probably just as surprised to see the Rangers, as well. Indeed, MSG is the other arena tied with Banknorth for second-to-last among playoff teams.
New York was a middle-of-the-pack team in terms of attendance, with 18,203 per game on average, although that number is hindered a good deal by the Garden's capacity. However, they plummeted to 15th in performance at home, with only 20 of 44 total wins (45.4 percent) coming at home.
The Rangers were able to come up with a big win Sunday to cut their series deficit to the Capitals to just two games to one, yet they'll need at least a couple more big home victories to advance, and that has proven tough to do this season for the Blueshirts.
Total Points: 14
...and the surprising results continue, despite the hint in the introduction! That's right, The Joe is the fourth weakest home-ice advantage in the 2011 playoffs. It's not because 19,680 fans scream their heads off every game, though; it's that the Red Wings can't seem to use that to their advantage.
This past regular season, Detroit had the lowest home-performanceto-overall-performance ratio of any playoff team. With a 21-14-6 home record (if you think about it, that's just 21-20 without the OT loss category), they came in at 44.7 percent, 0.7 percent below the Rangers for last in the category.
Detroit did beat the Coyotes twice on home ice to begin their series, possibly proving that the experienced, successful Wings can win consistently at home if they really need to. Still, could this become an issue against better opponents later on? That might be something to watch for.
Total Points: 15
The Sharks managed to stay middle of the pack in both categories, but still fell to 12th overall. They averaged filling over 98 percent of their seating capacity every game, along with all but four of the other playoff teams, but still finished 12th in attendance with only a little under 17,400 per match.
San Jose is the lowest-ranked team to have earned over half of their wins at home, however; they finished tied for seventh in that category at 52.1. percent After their previous playoff struggles cost them dearly despite consistently being a top seed, the Sharks will need to stay solid at home to keep rolling along and find some rare playoff success.
Total Points: 16
The 2004 Stanley Cup winner Tampa Bay has had some up-and-down years since then, but they're on the upturn this year. The Bolts have been one of many playoff teams to use home ice to their advantage, but it hasn't always been because of the fans.
In fact, St. Pete Times Forum ranked fourth-to-last among postseason qualifiers in average attendance during the regular season and third-to-last in percentage of capacity filled, earning the arena just four points in that regard.
On the other hand, Tampa Bay was quite successful in their own confines, winning 54.3 percent of their total victories there. That number was good enough to rank fifth out of the 16 in home performance and, coupled together, the Lightning came in with a decent finish. They'll need to play well at home, again, if they want to overtake the Penguins in their ongoing series, in which TB trails 2-1.
Total Points: 16
In the meantime, the Sabres have had solid attendance, ranking seventh with an average of a little under 18,500 per regular season game, but they haven't played quite as well there as their fans would've liked, finishing tied for 11th in that category by having only 48.8 percent of their wins coming in Buffalo.
Buffalo finished quite strong down the stretch, and they used their advantage well during that span. Can they keep it up? I guess we'll see.
Total Points: 16
Anaheim has one of the stranger cases of all of the playoff teams.
They were second to last among the 16 in both average attendance (during the regular season, of course) and average percent of capacity filled, settling out at 14,738 and 84.8 percent respectively, for those two statistics.
Conversely, they played miles better in the Honda Center than anywhere else. The Ducks led all playoff teams in home performance, as they pulled in 55.3 percent of their overall victories in familiar territory.
These two contradictory numbers lead to an average finish for the Ducks, who are tied for ninth overall. In a tight series with Nashville, Anaheim needs to continue its fantastic play at home.
Total Points: 17
As for an eternal top team stumbling down the stretch, the Flyers fit that perfectly. Their spring slide also significantly damaged their home-performance rating and, in turn, also hurt their overall standing in home-ice advantage.
There's definitely no doubt that Philadelphia has some crazy, loyal fans; the recently-renamed Wells Fargo Center finished third in average attendance per regular season game (19,710 each), a number that is actually higher than its stated capacity.
Nonetheless, the Flyers placed just the opposite in home performance, this time, third to last at just 46.8 percent. For another deep playoff run like 2010 and, hopefully, a Stanley Cup this time, they'll need to start using their raucous fanatics to help them really win at home.
Total Points: 18
The Canucks, which won this year's President's Trophy, won a whole lot at home and on the road, but they were unable to find much of an improvement in their play when they did get to play at home this regular season.
Vancouver finished 10th in performance at a straightforward 50 percent, although that number was buttressed by an average attendance of 18,860 (102.4 percent of capacity!), ranking sixth.
Despite that, the 'Nucks rolled past the Blackhawks in both home games earlier and will head home this time needing just a single victory to move on. Deeper in the postseason, though, when relying on a strong home effort is crucial, their will could be tested.
Total Points: 18
This may surprise you, but it appears as if the Music City has, even if they haven't yet taken too much to hockey, at least seen some victories this season! Nashville is tied for second among playoff teams with 54.5 percent of their wins coming at home.
Still, as we mentioned a few sentences ago, the attendance isn't all the way there yet; it's still sitting in third-to-last, although the 94.3 percent of capacity filled isn't too atrocious.
With those two statistics added together, the Bridgestone Arena finished in the upper half of playoff teams, surprisingly, with a total score of 18.
Total Points: 19
Solid results in both attendance and performance propped up the high-flying Capitals (now with a defensive side, too), but they were still out of the top five in both.
The well-known Verizon Center was eighth in average attendance this year with 18,397 per game, albeit 18,397 insane fans. Washington also played fairly well in front of those 18,397, coming in seventh in home wins with 52.1 percent.
For the Caps to end their playoff woes that have lasted longer than a decade, a good deal of reputable home wins is going to be what will make it happen, and during the regular season, they were able to do that quite often.
Total Points: 20
Who would've guessed that the Kings would end up, under this system, having one of the best home-ice advantages in the playoffs? Not us, certainly.
But they do. The Staples Center has been full to the brim this season for the successful Kings, as they've averaged filling just 0.3 percent short of their maximum capacity on any given night. Despite that, LA was still below average (10th) in attendance at a little over 18,000 per game.
The Kings were significantly better in their on-the ice ranking, where they placed fifth with 54.3 percent of wins coming at home. They may have blown a massive home lead yesterday against the Sharks, but in a tight series like that, victorious play at home may make the difference. Certainly, the Kings have a good chance of doing that, as this ranking proves.
Total Points: 20
The Penguins started slowly in their brand new arena last autumn, but they soon picked up the pace and have transformed, even without franchise cornerstones Crosby and Malkin, Consol Energy Center into a fairly frightening place to play.
With a fifth-ranked average attendance—19,457, or a whopping 107.6 percent of capacity—and a ninth-ranked home performance—51-percent flat of wins came at home—Pittsburgh, as expected, finishes among the best, yet again, in home ice advantage.
Total Points: 30
Any opinion article on this same topic would've had the Bell Centre and the Canadiens first in home-ice advantage, yet, under this system, they fall just short.
Their 21,273 attendance mark sits just a smidge under the Hawks leading number, but that's still good enough to cruise into second place in that regard out of 16 playoff teams.
No. 6-seed Montreal was also quite good at home during the regular season, winning 54.5 percent of their overall games at home (the same number as Chicago, in fact). They did drop their first home game of the playoffs to Boston, though, cutting their series lead to a mere 2-1 margin.
Despite the elite finishes in both categories, the Habs just didn't have quite enough to edge out No. 1.
Total Points: 31
After a massive jump from the third-place Kings and Penguins to second place comes the Canadiens...and then the Chicago Blackhawks, which take the title.
The once nearly bankrupt and support-lacking 'Hawks used last season's Stanley Cup title to earn the top attendance of all playoff teams at 21,423 per regular season game. Once again, that number is several percentage points above 100 percent of the stated capacity.
They also won 54.5 percent of their total victories within the dome of the United Center, placing them tied for second in that category. With 16 points for fans and 15 for performance, Chicago came about as close as you can get to first place without winning it. They used that advantage well to stave off elimination, yesterday, too, but they'll need a heroic comeback to move on past this series so they can exercise this advantage later on.