Some may see last night’s results and say that the higher seed won all three games. I see last night’s results and see that the road team won all three games, which brings the away team’s record to 14-8 after six days of the 2012 Playoffs.

While that type of road dominance and home incompetence is hardly the norm in the NHL, it also shouldn’t surprise anyone. Of the major sports, I’ve always been of the belief that home advantage in hockey has less of a psychological effect than in the others.

Gaining home court advantage in basketball, where crowds are almost sitting on top of the area of play (and in the case of courtside seats, are separated from players by mere inches) is huge, and the results prove it. In the NFL, a great home crowd can keep a team like the Seahawks respectable, not to mention the effects of weather and temperature on the outcome of a game. And while the fans might not make much of a difference in baseball, the difference in dimensions and esthetics between ball parks might, at the very least, be a sense of comfort and familiarity for the home players, while seeming foreign to the road players. And I haven’t even mentioned the advantages or disadvantages of a hitter’s park versus a pitcher’s park depending on the makeup of a team.

In hockey, the fans are more barricaded from the ice than fans are from the field, court, diamond or pitch, and for the most part, I’d imagine many arenas look and feel the same from ice level, save for a select few. Plus in football and basketball, the volume of a crowd matters depending on which team is on the offensive and which is defending. In baseball, a pitcher or hitter might be distracted by the sound. In hockey, the pace of the game makes attacking and defending as close to a seamless transition as possible (except, of course, for powerplays), not really allowing for crowd noise to alter the balance of the ice one way or another.

I don’t mean to downplay the importance of having the final change or having an advantage at the faceoff dot, both of which can make a difference, especially in a long, tight playoff series. But for the most part, unless a crowd is absolutely incredible (looking at you, 2011-2012 Jets fans), I don’t buy the whole home ice “advantage” thing as much as I do home court or home field advantage.

Now here are your links:

  • Speaking of home crowds, Senators fans find their voice in Game 3 against the Rangers (Ottawa Sun). I vehemently disagree with the article’s notion that the Sens could give “fans around the country” something to cheer for or rally behind. Certain Canadians have to stop pretending that the seven teams situated north of the border have a “Team Canada” vibe to them. That would be the case if there was one Canadian team in the league, or maybe even just a couple. But there are seven teams scattered across five provinces and four time zones, and most of the roughly 35 million Canadians have allegiances to one of those seven teams. Just because the other five or six have been eliminated, doesn’t mean the seventh team becomes a shining beacon of Canadian representation.
  • Henrik Lundqvist’s presence in goal set the tone for the Rangers’ Game 3 win in Ottawa (New York Times).
  • It’s time for the NHL to stop acting like a kangaroo court when it comes to discipline (Sporting News). I agree with the suggestion to suspend Arron Asham for the remainder of the playoffs, as harsh as that might sound to some. It’s time to set a real example when it comes to non-hockey plays and cowardly violent actions.
  • Shea Weber’s actions do not define his character (National Post).
  • Mike Smith and Martin Hanzal did not practice with the Coyotes yesterday (Fox Sports Arizona).
  • It took three games, but the Bruins are finally playing with an edge (ESPN).
  • If you missed it last night, Jason Chimera speared Brad Marchand below the belt during a stoppage in play (theScore.com). Say what you will about Marchand, but I’d be willing to bet that the anguish you see is 100 per cent authentic pain.
  • Capitals fans are trolling Tim Thomas with White House stuff (Puck Daddy) This is some of the better fan trolling I’ve seen in a while. Bravo, Washington.
  • The Devils/Panthers series moves to New Jersey for Game 3 tonight, but the Devils can’t count on home ice advantage (NorthJersey.com) New Jersey is just 4-9 in its last 13 home playoff games and is 3-7 since moving to Newark.
  • Don Cherry backs Sidney Crosby (theScore.com).
  • The Sharks aren’t going to “reinvent the wheel” to improve their penalty kill against the Blues (NBCSports). The Blues went three-for-four with the man advantage in Game 3.

Comments (2)

  1. Since you openly invited us to say what we will about Marchand, I accept :) My response is basically, “puh-leez.” That guy was diving so much last game I thought for sure there would be a meme this morning of his head photoshopped onto Greg Louganis’s body (or some other diver, I only know him and Mark Spitz). Hard to take his anguish at his word. For the genuine artifact, we’d have to compare to when he ran into a brick wall named Subban. And of course, his diving is effective, is it not? That’s how Chara got his game-winning PPG. Marchand was like a feather on that Backstrom penalty, when I’ve seen the guy countless times on the forecheck staying strong through checks and pressure at full speed. Always thought he was super strong. So the spearing, while deplorable, is the least of my worries with that guy. Sure seemed fine later on. And apparently Chimmer apologized after the game. So overall, who won?

    Also, Pierce Brosnan in Mrs. Doubtfire.

  2. During my time playing college sports I always preferred playing on the road due to the fact your road on buses (in NHL’s case planes) together, stayed in the same place, arrived to the stadium at or around the same time, had meals together, not at home distractions (family, friends, children, gf’s) etc. I felt the team was actually closer on the road then at home and this helped create a positive atmosphere for playing. This could be the case for guys in the NHL too?

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