Sure it makes sense that most hockey players would perform better at home. There’s the encouragement of the hometown fans, the advantage of having last change, and of course the luxury of waking up in your own bed and having a home-cooked meal before the game. That being said, there shouldn’t be an overwhelming change in home vs. road production. The players that are getting it done every night at home, yet may have better served their team being left behind when the team goes on the road are Homers. On the other end of the spectrum there are the rare players who put up far better numbers on the road than at home. These players are Road Warriors. Though we’re only 30 or so games into the season here’s an early look at this years Homers and Road Warriors.
Patrick Marleau‘s play at home versus his play on the road this season has been like night and day. At HP Pavillion Marleau has 9 goals and 17 points in 13 games and is -3. On the road Marleau has just 2 goals, 3 assists and is a disgusting -13. On the road Sharks coach Todd McLellan has been trying Marleau away from Thornton and Heatley to spread out his offense and make it difficult for the opposing team to match lines. Unfortunately for Marleau owners this strategy hasn’t helped Marleau’s numbers.
Coming into play Saturday, Alexander Semin is third in NHL goal scoring with 18 goals. What’s surprising is that he has scored just two of those goals away from the Verizon Center. Semin has just 8 points and is -1 in 13 road games this season compared to 25 points and a +11 rating in 17 home games this season. At home his 16 goals gives him one more than Sidney Crosby has in Pittsburgh for the league lead in goal scoring at home, but Crosby has 11 on the road.
The Los Angeles Kings have the best home record in the NHL at 11-2-0, so it is no surprise their top players are putting up numbers at Staples Center. However, the Kings have struggled on the road so far this season going just 5-8-0. The reason? Anze Kopitar, Ryan Smyth, Jarret Stoll, Justin Williams, and Dustin Brown are all struggling to score on the road. Kopitar has 17 points and is +9 in 13 homes this year while going -5 with 8 points in 13 road games. Likewise, Smyth has 12 points in 13 home games but has just 3 points on the road. Kopitar, Smyth, Stoll, and Williams are all +9 at home going into play Saturday, but they are all on the wrong side of zero on the road. Brown is +12 at home and -2 on the road.
17 of Nicklas Lidstrom‘s 22 points have come at Joe Louis arena where he is a +10. The veteran defencemen hasn’t faired so well away from home this season recording 5 assists and going -6 in 11 games. Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom has scored just once and added one assist on the road this season. At home he has 7 goals and 12 points in 16 games played. With Holmstrom its an easy explanation. Coach Mike Babcock has elected to with Danny Cleary on the first line with Datsyuk and Zetterberg many times on the road this season.
Montreal center Tomas Plekanec is off to a great start this season with 25 points in his first 28 games. However, he’s only recorded one goal and five assists on the road. Andrei Kostitsyn, Mike Cammalleri, and Brian Gionta all have struggled on the road so far this season relative to their production at home. All of these players have spent time with Plekanec on the Canadiens top line. It seems apparent that the Canadiens are having trouble getting their top forwards away from opposing team match-ups on the road.
Jussi Jokinen is far and away the leader when it comes to playing better on the road relative to at home. Jussi has 16 points in 15 road games this season (one was played in Europe). On the other hand he has struggled at home having yet to score a goal and recording just 4 assists in 12 home game, 1 of which was played in Europe.
Daniel Sedin hasn’t been unproductive by any means at home with 12 points in 13 games, but he has been outstanding on the road. He’s put up 10 goals and 10 assists in just 13 road games which is somewhat surprising when you consider Vancouver is only 6-5-2 on the road.
Sharks rookie standout Logan Couture has definitely benefitted from opposing teams giving all their attention to the Big 3 while on the road. Couture has 11 goals and is +8 in 15 road games compared to having just 7 points and a -2 rating in 13 home games. Another rookie, Ranger Derek Stepan has yet to score on goal on Madison Square Garden ice in 15 games, but has 7 goals and 11 points on the road.
Ales Hemsky had 14 of his 18 points on the road before getting hurt. Teammate Sam Gagner has scored just one goal at home this season, but has 13 points in 15 road games.