NHL Playoffs - Stats & Trends Since 2003

Will Rogers | Apr 23, 2013 | ARCHIVE

By Will Rogers


On my very first day here at Covers Experts, I published an article discussing home ice advantage in the NHL. Part of the focus of that article, was how the home teams didn't fare particularly well in last year's playoffs. We all know that backing home favorites can be costly, and certainly last year it would have been a losing proposition to lay the chalk on the home teams.

That's just one season though, and I have since been thinking it would be interesting to dig a little deeper, and see how the home teams have fared over the past decade. While I was digging, I also thought I would take a look at some other trends, such as over/under, overtimes and series upsets.

We begin by looking at how the home teams fared in seven games series over the past 10 years. We know there have been a few upsets, such at the Kings winning the Stanley Cup as the eighth seed last season, but let's see just how common it is for the road teams to upset the favorite in a seven game series:


2003: 10 of 15 series went to the home teams.

2004: 12 of 15 series went to the home teams.

2005: No stats due to lockout.

2006: 8 of 15 series went to the home teams.

2007: 9 of 15 series went to the home teams.

2008: 8 of 15 series went to the road teams.

2009: 9 of 15 series went to the home teams.

2010: 9 of 15 series went to the road teams.

2011: 9 of 15 series went to the home teams.

2012: 8 of 15 series went to the road teams.


TOTAL: 77 of 135 (57%) of the series over the past 10 years have gone to the home team.


Additional Notes: 

The idea that home ice provides a significant advantage has been challenged in recent seasons, with road underdogs winning at a higher rate than the home team over the past five years. Over the past decade the home teams have an edge, winning 57% of the seven game series. The trends seem to suggest that one should avoid paying a hefty price to back home favorites in hockey. 


Now lets have a look at how the numbers add up in the individual games. In a seven game series, it is rare to see a team advance without winning at least once on the road. Last year we saw the away team win 53% of the overall games played in the playoffs, but how about over a 10 year period:


2003: The home teams were 43-34 overall.

2004: The home teams were 52-37 overall.

2005: No stats due to lockout.

2006: The home teams were 42-41 overall.

2007: The home teams were 45-36 overall.

2008: The home teams were 49-36 overall.

2009: The home teams were 52-34 overall.

2010: The home teams were 45-43 overall.

2011: The home teams were 49-40 overall.

2012: The road teams were 45-40 overall.


TOTAL: The home teams were 417-346 (55%) in all games.


Additional Notes:

It's interesting to note that while the away teams won more series in 2008, 2010, 2012, that didn't translate to more wins for the road teams in the overall games played until last season. If you are wondering how that is possible, well the answer is simple, it only takes one game to shift home ice in a series. For example, in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals between Boston and Vancouver, the Bruins won as the away team. Both teams traded home wins for the first six games, with Boston taking Game 7 on the road. 


Finally we will have a look at over/under trends in the post-season over the past decade. We know that low scoring games have been the trend over the regular season in 2013, with nearly 54% of all games going under. NHL totals are normally 5 or 5.5, with totals as low as 4.5 or as high as 6 being quite rare. The stats I am using for this example are based on each game going over or under 5.



2003: The totals trended under at a rate of 35-23-25.

2004: The totals trended under at a rate of 45-22-22.

2005: No stats due to lockout.

2006: The totals trended over at a rate of 36-27-20.

2007: The totals trended under at a rate of 29-24-28.

2008: The totals trended over at a rate of 37-25-23.

2009: The totals trended over at a rate of 35-26-25.

2010: The totals trended over at a rate of 48-23-17.

2011: The totals trended over at a rate of 46-28-15.

2012: The totals trended under at a rate of 38-27-20.

TOTAL:
The totals trended over at a rate of 298-276-195 (52%)

Additional Notes:
We see a complete reverse in over/under trends following the 2005 lockout. This is undoubtedly due to rule changes that were introduced the following year to promote scoring. These changes included a crackdown on obstruction, and the removal of the red line and two-line passes. Recent seasons have moved back toward low scoring games though. We saw the under trend through last season's playoffs, and then through the regular season in 2013. I would expect low scoring games to continue to be the trend in this years playoffs.

 For overtime trends see: here