At the American Airlines Center this season, opponents lining up opposite the Dallas Stars have been in for a tough night.
The home team is walking away with 73% of the available points when games are played in Dallas, the 4th highest points percentage when playing at home in the league. They’re also the 6th highest in scoring at home with the 7th best goals against average. In other words, they’re making hay at home, and the fans are generally privy to entertaining affairs.
Players and coaches in hockey always comment on how home ice is an “advantage” and, finally, in Dallas it’s not just a stale cliche. It’s real.
“I feel like we have more energy at home,” head coach Jim Montgomery said after the Stars’ 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers Monday night, “and I credit our fans for a lot of that.”
Jason Dickinson agreed with his coach, telling assembled media at practice yesterday, “I think our fans have been awesome. They create so much energy even if it’s a simple play that in Canada might go unnoticed or brushed under the rug, you know? They’re excited about the sport, and you can tell it’s not just the amazing plays that they enjoy. They enjoy everything about it so it’s great to play in front of them.”
They’re starting to enjoy a little bit of that home enthusiasm on the road, too.
Monty said he’s been very impressed with Stars fans in Dallas and how they travel.— Saad Yousuf (@SaadYousuf126) December 4, 2018
“We’re in Canada, we’re in NY, green jerseys everywhere.”
Said the level of intelligent questions when he goes to events has been great.
Unfortunately, the Stars turns into Mr. Hyde when they’re away from friendly environs, even if green jerseys can be spotted in the crowd. Somehow they’re still roughly middle of the pack in terms of points percentage, and that’s due in very large part to the stellar defensive effort of the team when on the road.
Goal scoring goes off a cliff when the Stars are on the road. They’re scoring nearly a goal and a half less on the road per game than at home, a differential that is only bested by the Boston Bruins who are scoring 1.6 goals less on the road when compared to home. It’s almost Ken Hitchcock-levels of stifling on the road.
What’s the biggest contributor to the stark contrast between home and road scoring?
“On the road teams get the matchup against us,” Montgomery said, “so that has a little bit - it shouldn’t be as drastic as it is. But the road trips we’ve had, we’ve had a lot of back-to-backs and they’ve been long road trips. The longer the road trip, you don’t seem to be able to sustain it from what I’ve seen about, you know, come out and play with pace and energy every night.”
Of the first 28 games of the season, the Stars have played 13 games at home and 15 on the road. Seven of those home games occurred in the first month of October, including a four-game home stretch to kickoff the year. They’ve had two extended road trips so far this season: one that spanned 10 nights and saw them play six games between two countries, and another that lasted eight nights, with four games between two countries.
That’s a lot of miles and time away from home just one-third of the way through the season.
It’s not going to change anytime soon, either. After enjoying a six day stint at home, the Stars will hit the road for another stretch that sees four games in eight nights next week. They’ll have a break until mid-February when the team will go on a five game trip away from home over the course of a week and a half. They’ll have another Canada swing at the end of March, but the thickest of the road trips will be behind them by the end of December.
Then the schedule gets more home game-heavy. If the team can be close to .500 on the road while collecting 70%+ of points at home, they should be right in the playoff race at the end of the year.