Home ice isn’t always an advantage in the NHL playoffs. So how good are the New York Islanders on the road?
There’s a single game left in the 2018-19 regular season. On Saturday, the New York Islanders will play against 2019 Metropolitan Division champions Washington Capitals. A single point for the Islanders will give them home-ice advantage in the first round.
When you get to the playoffs every team is looking for any and all advantage they can get. Playing the first two games at home in a seven-game series is, we’re told, one of those advantages.
Home teams get that decibel breaking home crowd and the home team also gets the last change on the ice. Sounds like a great advantage to have in the first two games. But unfortunately, home ice isn’t always an advantage.
Home Ice Advantage?
According to Neil Paine of FiveThirtyEight.com, home ice isn’t an advantage in the NHL playoffs. After comparing how homes teams performed at home in the regular season and in the playoffs versus how they’d perform on neutral ground Paine figured that teams had a -0.3% home ice boost in the playoffs.
So not much of a boost at all. Home ice isn’t the incredible advantage we all think it is. Obviously, the Islanders should still go for home ice. But if they don’t manage to get it, they won’t be loosing out on this series-defining advantage.
Now, let’s say the Islanders don’t manage to get a point against the Capitals and the Penguins beat the Rangers on their final game of the season to take second place in the Metropolitan Division. How are the Isles going to deal with starting two games to start the series on the road?
The Islanders hold a 23-14-3 away record this season. In terms of wins (23), the Islanders rank sixth in the league (tied with Toronto and Columbus). With their 1.225 points per away game, the Islanders rank fourth in the NHL.
That’s a pretty good away record.
Again, obviously, the New York Islanders want home ice advantage even if it doesn’t necessarily translate into an advantage. But if they have to start a series on the road they’d be just fone.