I wrote a blog about a month ago talking about the playoff format and how it should be changed to help out the higher seeds since I thought they don’t get enough of an advantage. I could be totally wrong. Is it me or are the home teams having trouble winning this playoffs? So far, in the Conference finals round, the home team is just 2-4 after 6 games played. Overall during the 2018 playoffs, there have been 34 home wins and 37 road wins. 3 games under .500 is insane and if it wasn’t for Vegas, this stat would be a lot worse. Teams seem to be playing better on the road these playoffs and it has Papa thinking. What could possibly be the cause of this odd stat? Here’s my theory.
There are a lot more distractions at home. Whether it be family, friends, or media, there is no doubt that when these players are in their home town during the NHL playoffs, the spotlight is shining bright. They have more media obligations with the press, which is to be expected during the playoffs. Which is why I find the Vegas run even more impressive. They argueably have the biggest spotlight on them and have been handling the attention flawlessly. Winnipeg too is under a huge microscope as they could be the first Canadian team to win the cup since the 1993 Montreal Canadians. Ovi and the Caps obviously have the allusive hump to get over to finally bring the cup to Washington after being one of the favorites for the past few years. Tampa Bay is the only one that baffles me. They were a solid team at home this season and have played well at home (5-1) during the first two rounds. They now dropped their the series opening home games to the Caps.
The other reason of having friends and family being a distraction may not be as impactful, but definitely can be an annoyance for players. I am sure more family and friends are looking to reach out for tickets and such during this time. This added pressure of delivering to these people can be a cause for concern for some players who need to be focusing on the hockey. There is no doubt that this happens, but how much of an impact it has isn’t quantifiable. I’m sure the younger players have a tougher time dealing with this since the older players know how to deal with these types of issues.
I am sure it is a bunch of factors adding up to this weird stat of the road team success. The road teams get some break from the press and are away from the friends and family and probably have an easier time focusing on the game. Again, this is just a theory. But with the technology and all the outlets for news and social media, playoff time for any sport is polarizing. Players can become heroes or zeroes overnight. The pressure to perform is at all time high and being in front of the home town crowd, face to face with the home town media can be daunting. It’s what makes the playoffs so exciting, but is this having an impact on why the home teams have been struggling so far this playoffs? I could be totally off with this take, but with the Tampa and Washington series starting 0-3 for the home teams, I had to get it off my chest.