The 2012 playoffs might be the year of the road team

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The Los Angeles Kings have already broken the record for consecutive road playoff wins with 11 (nine this year and two in 2011). While Darryl Sutter’s bunch leads the pack, one might end up remembering the 2012 playoffs as the year of the road team.

Sam Carchidi points out that if the Kings win tonight, that would give road teams 46 victories in the 2012 playoffs, tying the all-time record most recently set in 1987.

So far, away squads are 45-36 in 81 games (there were 45 Eastern Conference contests and 35 in the West, plus one Stanley Cup final squabble).

Carchidi wonders if this shows that home ice advantage “means almost nothing.” Instead, I think that it comes down to a few factors.

1. Randomness – Sure, 81 games is a better sample size than we usually get, but in context it’s still the wackiness of the postseason.
2. Parity – As the salary cap evens things out more and more, there aren’t as many “juggernaut” teams. When everything is that close, then you can covert that “Any Given Sunday” cliche to any given playoff game – no matter what color sweater you’re wearing.
3. Limited actual advantages – Aside from mocking chants and undeniably electric atmospheres, home ice provides two main advantages: the last change and the faceoff edge. In the grand scheme of things, that can only mean so much.

Now, if this interesting wrinkle repeats itself in a serious way like this for a few years, we can all laugh off home ice. In the mean time, I’m going to look at it as a moderate advantage, but feel free to debate just how much it matters – if at all.