Although it may often be obvious that certain teams tend to play better at home than they do on the road, it may not be nearly as obvious sometimes just how big of a discrepancy actually exists for each respective team. There is, however, one very simple solution to this problem, and that solution is statistics (my personal answer for everything).
Below is a simple table, with some enlightening results. By calculating each team’s average +/- at home and away ((Goals for – Goals allowed)/Games played), and then, by comparing them, we can quantify just how much better (or worse) each team is at home than they are on the road, in terms of average margin of victory.
Let’s see what we’ve got.
Here are the teams listed from top-to-bottom in order of home-away +/- discrepancy. The team at the top, St. Louis, is on average +2.73 goals better at home than they are on the road, while the team at the bottom, Boston, is a contrasting +2.13 goals better on the road than they are at home. See below for more breakdowns:
STAY AT HOMES (see top of the list):
At the top of this list, we have a collection of pretty good home teams who haven’t exactly taken the same shows on the road so far this season. For whatever number of reasons, dropoffs in goal-scoring and, in some cases, significant hikes in GAA have been the sole blemishes on these teams’ otherwise rather successful seasons. Most importantly though, these teams are NOT who you thought they were once they find themselves on enemy ice.
TRAVELLING ACTS (see bottom of the list):
The five teams at the bottom of this list have played better on the road this season than they have at home. Most notable have been the dramatic increases in goals per game for both Boston and Chicago on the road, and also the much better goals-against averages of both the New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets. The Buffalo Sabres, on the other hand, have just been really bad at home, making them “better on the road” almost by default.
STEADY HANDS (you’ll have to look for them):
There are 3 teams in particular who don’t appear to play all that differently whether at home or on the road. While there are other teams who don’t have big discrepancies in +/- home-and-away, these 3 teams, Colorado, Phoenix, and Calgary, actually have both very similar goals-for and goals-against averages regardless of home or hostile territory.
BEST HOME TEAMS:
No surprises here, it’s a list of the top 5 early-season favourites to win the Stanley Cup (in order?). All 5 of these teams are also leading their respective divisions.
WORST HOME TEAMS:
Some truly terrible home GAA’s between some actually pretty good (Olympian) goaltenders. These teams need to figure out how to be less gracious hosts towards visiting teams, and how to stop padding their opponents’ stats.
BEST AWAY TEAMS:
After playing 8 games away from home, Boston is head-and-shoulders above the pack, but they probably will fall back closer towards it eventually. Either way, once some of these teams figure out how to bring their road games back home, they might find themselves joining the ‘Cup contender’ conversation. For now though, we’ll just be happy to leave them in the ‘profitable road teams’ conversation.
WORST AWAY TEAMS:
These 5 teams have a combined road record of 13W-36L (26.5%). Ottawa has fallen victim to a couple of bad road games this year, but otherwise hold a relatively respectable 4-6 record away from home. As for the other 4 teams, not much can really be said in their defense.