NHL Picks: Home Ice Advantage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs

David Lawrence

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 3:25 PM UTC

Tuesday, May. 21, 2013 3:25 PM UTC

During the regular season, we always talk about home-ice advantage as being that crucial edge when the playoffs roll around. However, recent history has proven that playing at home hasn’t necessarily been a big benefit at all.

In the NBA, we know it’s quite significant. In the NFL, it’s always important. However, where has the NHL stood in the ranks of home-ice advantage in previous years as well as 2013, and how might it help us when making our NHL picks?

Take a look at the updated Stanley Cup NHL Odds.

Prior To 2013

Home-ice advantage in the first round of the plyaoffs hasn’t really been much of one in the NHL recently. When you take a look back to the first round of the playoffs in 2011, home teams were just 22-27. When you look back to 2010, home teams were even worse in the first round with a record of 21-28. 

Last year was a particularly bad year for home-ice advantage as the home teams were 39-47 in the entire playoffs. That’s mostly because the Los Angeles Kings upset everyone en route to a Stanley Cup title as a No. 8 seed. They went 10-1 away from home. 

Quite clearly, parity has been at an all-time high in the NHL and teams from any range in the standings are picking off higher-seeded opponents. That means road wins and that means home-ice advantage isn’t what it used to be…or is it? 

In 2013 

This year’s playoffs have bucked the trend of recent years where home-ice advantage has been irrelevant. Those making their NHL picks have made a killing off of undervalued road teams in previous years but that wasn’t quite the case in this year. In the first round, home teams were a whopping 30-17, which means that if you’ve been backing the squads playing in front of their own audience, you made quite the profitable margin. Home-ice was particularly important in series like Washington and New York where the home team won six of the seven games. 

Even so, we still see a weakness in that home-ice advantage that in one period of time, we never used to see: Game 7’s. We saw two road teams win Game 7’s (Detroit and New York), which used to be unheard of. The Toronto Maple Leafs would have been a third had they not choked away a 4-1 lead with half a period remaining. 

However, the home-ice advantage has carried over into Round 2 so far as home teams are a whopping 10-1 so far (entering Tuesday’s action). 

In previous years, NHL odds makers had watched the home-ice advantage fade in the playoffs but it’s going strong in 2013. Maybe it has to do with a shortened season or maybe this year is simply an aberration but whatever the case, stick with the trends. If you don’t like laying the juice on the home teams, consider the puck line as an alternate going forward. Regardless, when making your sports picks keep in mind that road teams have not fared well in these playoffs and that perceived “value” on away teams that we’ve come to love just hasn’t been there.

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