A recent study shows that an NHL team will earn 55% of its playoff points at home. The study concluded that, “Although home ice advantage does exist, it is only a small advantage. Many other factors will affect the outcome of the games more significantly…”
Like skinned ducks slamming onto the ice. Country music superstars wailing the Star-Spangled Banner and the local NFL team hammering beers and undressing.
Is this the formula for the best playoff home ice advantage in the NHL?
It is in Music City, USA at Bridgestone Arena. To the tune of ten straight wins. Three against the San Jose Sharks, two against the Chicago Blackhawks, three against the St. Louis Blues and two coming against the Anaheim Ducks, including Tuesday’s Game 3.
Of the ten straight wins at home, six of those have come when the Predators have trailed at some point in the game.
The Predators’ ten game postseason home winning streak, which stretches to last season’s run, is the NHL’s longest in twenty years. Yes, even before the Nashville Predators played their first game. Not since the 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings has a team won ten straight playoff home games.
The Predators lost a league low nine times in regulation at home in the regular season. The Anaheim Ducks were blown out 5-0 in their only visit to “Smashville” this season.
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle had this to say about Bridgestone
Arena, “We’ve experienced loud buildings, but this building is a little bit more unique because of the brightness in the building, the color of the opposition’s jerseys. The closeness and the acoustics in the building make it a very loud place. If you look at the top of the board around the rink, it’s yellow. All other buildings are blue, or have a different color. That’s defining. It’s part of their color scheme. It’s all added. I just find it’s different.”
Predator’s coach Peter Lavolette had a different take on their home ice advantage, “Typically, when somebody talks about a home-ice advantage, it goes through the atmosphere of the building and the energy that can come from a building. And ours, I think, is just terrific. There’s more of a European soccer match-type event, with the chanting and the noise and the applause and just 100% behind us, and it is an advantage.”
“It’s unbelievable how much the city has gotten behind our team,” Laviolette said. “Our fans have always been there, but they’re even louder and more vocal and more visible now. That’s the playoffs. The further you get, the more exciting it gets for everybody, for a city who is maybe experiencing something for the first time and for our players. All of that adds up to just a great environment that makes our game so great.”
The Predator’s players enjoy the supercharged atmosphere too.
“Our fans, our city, have really gotten behind us,” Predators captain Mike Fisher stated after Game 3. “They’ve just done an unbelievable job in the playoffs. We feel that it helps us, there’s no question, on and off the ice. Tonight, you saw it. It was unbelievable.”
“You’ve got to be in here to feel the energy,” said defenseman Roman Josi. “It’s unbelievable. I haven’t been in a building with that much energy in my life, in my career.”
“You always try to establish your home building as a tough place to play,” said Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne. “I think we’ve been doing that. You don’t want to have any regrets and you don’t want to look back at these home games as a missed chance.”
“We love playing here,” forward James Neal said. “From the second we skate on the ice, it’s an amazing building to play in. Everyone says their fans are great. But this is a whole different level of support.
“The city, it’s on fire.”
The team is on fire too.
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