The Chicago Blackhawks topped the Minnesota Wild last night, taking a 3-2 lead in a series in which the home team has won every game. Conversely, the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings will play game 5 tonight in a series split at 2 games apiece... with the home side having yet to win a game.
Now, obviously home ice advantage should mean something. And teams strive throughout the regular season to ensure the best chance of having it. Is it worth more in the playoffs though? The tangible benefits are the same - line changes, faceoffs, familiarity - but is the intangible benefit, namely, the crowd, an even greater boost come playoff time? And does the lessening of that advantage in the Southern California Freeway Series make those games more of a toss up?
Or, because this is hockey, is it all just random?
Looking at the regular season records of these four teams it turns out the opposing results of these two series aren't that big a surprise. But it's not that the Kings and Ducks were terrible teams at home, nor that the Blackhawks and Wild were unbeatable at home. In fact, all of them came in with fairly similar numbers, the Ducks having the best home-winning percentage at 70.7%, and the Kings having the worst, at 56.1%, with the Wild and Blackhawks falling within that. And yes, that's win percentage rather than points percentage, since in the Playoffs we couldn't care less about the Bettman point. It's a binary system. 1's and 0's, all the way.
So if all four of these teams have a significantly greater than even chance of winning at home, how come two of them have done nothing but win at home (the Blackhawks and Wild are the only two teams in this year's playoffs to be as yet undefeated at home), while the other two have combined to cough up four straight? Well, it turns out it's more about these teams abilities on the road. Anaheim again leads the group, with a 60.9% win percentage on the road during the regular season, and LA weren't far behind, with 56.1%, the same as their home win percentage. However, the Blackhawks found themselves on the wrong side of even, at 46.3%, and the Wild were well below that, at 41.5%.
Basically, what that means is that the LA-Anaheim series is a game to game tossup and I haven't a clue how the next three games are going to go, while Chicago are going to win a Game 7 and thus eliminate the Wild on Thursday.
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Before we move on to the rest of the links, I'm just gonna let myself get sidetracked for a moment. You can #blameTuba for the diversion. The winners of the first annual Best of Defending Big D awards have been announced! Seriously though, read this brilliant post from Tuba and enjoy reliving some of the best moments of the past season. Hasn't it been fun?! [Defending Big D]
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In case you missed it over the weekend, the Texas Stars cruised to a 4-0 victory in the second game of their series against the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Stars now lead the series two games to nil and will head up to Michigan for Game 3 on Tuesday. [100 Degree Hockey]
And the Allen Americans win the Central Hockey League Championship! [Sports Day DFW]
In NHL action, here's a recap of Chicago's win last night, as seen by a Chicago blogger. [Second City Hockey]
And here's the recap from the other side. Of more importance though is the curious implication that 'Wild' is a singular noun, as in the headline "Wild Drops Game 5." Surely though, surely we're talking about a collective noun here? Unless the bloggers unfortunate enough to write about the Minnesota Wild have finally admitted to themselves that their team name is an adjective, and thus falls outside the normal strictures of sporting nomenclature... Whatever. The Fighting Adjectives dropped Game 5 last night. [Hockey Wilderness]
Anybody still care about the Pittsburgh-New York series? No? Didn't think so. The following link will not be of interest to you. [Pensburgh]
Even if you don't care about that series, there is one story from last night's game that's worth a read. Careful though, it's tear-jerker. Three days after the unexpected death of his mother, Martin St. Louis scores a crucial goal for the Rangers... on Mother's Day. [Puck Daddy]
On that topic, Bruce Boudreau is an idiot. And also really needs to get over this.
"I don't think [Perry]'s a guy like Antoine Roussel or Garbutt, who purposely do things to tick the other person off. I think Corey just plays as Corey and if it ticks people off then that's an added bonus." [TSN]
Double standard much, Bruce?
Antoine Roussel and his French teammates pulled off another huge upset at the World Championships, a year to the day since Roussel himself scored the game winner against Russia. This time it was Team Canada that fell to France. [Ottawa Citizen]
And lastly, in that game, Cristobal Huet (remember him?) did this to give the French a chance: