It's the best time of year!
When talking about clinching a Stanley Cup playoff spot in the National Hockey League, media, fans and teams alike all talk about how important home ice advantage is. They all mention how well the team plays at home, how the crowd is like the “7th” man and that you play all season long to get home ice at the most important time of the season.
With all of that said, however, home ice advantage sometimes really isn’t what it is cracked up to be and should not be looked at as the be all and end all come playoff time. Whether you are the 1st or 8th seed, you want to play well whether it is at home or on the road.
For example, let’s look at the current Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens series. With the series tied up at 2-2, neither team has won a home game. Both of these teams have unbelievably passionate fans and yet, both the Bruins and Canadiens walked out of their raucous home arenas empty handed through the series’ first four games.
What exactly does this show? Well, for starters it shows that good teams can playing a winning brand of hockey just about anywhere. The Bruins went into Montreal down two games to none and with an unbelievably daunting task ahead of them if they wanted to get back into the series.
Being the good team that they are, the Bruins played smart and disciplined hockey and as a result, got themselves back into the series. Instead of the series being finished or heading back to Beantown with a chance to be eliminated in Game 5, the Bruins now head back with a chance to take the series lead because of how well they played on the road.
Aside from this series, road teams are 12-2 in the last 14 playoff games. Furthermore, road teams are an astounding 8-2 in Game 7's in the last two postseasons.
In hockey, the goal for each team is to play well whether their game is at home or on the road. In my opinion, this is exactly why home ice advantage does not mean much in the grand scheme of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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