Wednesday, December 13, 2006


A Tale of Two Leagues, cont'd.

Tom Benjamin, among many many others, has noted that it's almost like the two conferences are playing different games -- among other bits of evidence, it's rather stunning that 24 of the NHL's Top 30 scorers come from the East.

It would be unwise to overstate things (the average EC team outscores the average WC team by ~0.25 G/gm), but roughly speaking, the West seems to be tighter checking with most of the league's best goalies, while the East seems more wide open with most of the league's sieves (apologies to Cloutier and Joseph).

Along these lines, inspired by a comment by Roger Millions(!), I took a look at some other stats, and found a difference between the two conferences that is sufficiently large that I assume it's a fluke.

Home-ice advantage in the NHL has been relatively consistent over time. Naturally adjustments need to be made re: the shootout and the loser-point, but so far this season (prior to last night's games), the overall numbers are right in line.
To date this season:
Travel matters, for sure (I took a less rigourous but more historical look at this last year), and I would expect the advantage to be greater in the WC, but that doesn't go halfway to explaining this discrepancy. It certainly wouldn't explain why home-ice advantage has been virtually negligible in the EC.

By division, home-ice advantage is ranked like so:
  1. Northwest: 60.9%
  2. Pacific: 33.3%
  3. Central: 16.8%
  4. Southeast: 9.3%
  5. Atlantic: 9.1%
  6. Northeast: -5.6%
13 of the top 16 teams ranked this way are from the WC (the Devils, Panthers, and Hurricanes are the only teams who can actually claim that they have a home-ice advantage). There are 12 teams with worse records at home than on the road (though not by a ton) -- 11 are from the EC.

I don't know what the explanation for such a huge discrepancy here is, or even if that explanation would be interesting. I just thought I'd point it out. As you were.


I've been intending to write this exact post for about a week. I'm at work so much, it's all I can do to crank out the odd thing with a bunch of wrong names for people.

It's weird though. I've also noticed that it seems like when the Oilers are at home, they get three days between games and when they hit the road, it's B2B or 3/4 days time. I'm wondering if that's a WC thing, done to cut travel costs or something.

NW division will be skewed partially because of the Alberta team's impressive home records right now. Was this the same last season? IIR the oil were sliding towards crap @home but were better on the road, this year seems opposite.

MC- I definately think the travel issue has part to do with this. look at the oiler skid a while back, it seems that on the road playing B2B and 3 in 4's makes it harder to right the ship.

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