How much of an advantage is home-ice advantage for the Vancouver Canucks?

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
14 days ago
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With just a trio of games left in the regular season, the Vancouver Canucks have already secured home-ice advantage in Round One of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Should the Edmonton Oilers lose their Friday night game against Arizona/Salt Lake City, the Canucks could secure home-ice advantage into the second round (and the Pacific Division title) by beating the Oilers on Saturday.
Home-ice advantage beyond that requires making up four points on the Dallas Stars to win the Western Conference and five points on the New York Rangers to win the Presidents’ Trophy, both of which are unlikely scenarios at this point.
But with all this talk of home-ice advantage, it does raise the question of how much of an advantage it truly is to this 2023/24 edition of the Vancouver Canucks.
So, we decided to investigate.
The Record
As of this writing, the Canucks are sitting on an overall record of 48-22-9. But that sparkling record is not split entirely evenly into home and away success.
The Canucks’ home record stands at 26-9-5, with a point-percentage of .713.
Their road record, conversely, stands at 22-13-4, with a point-percentage of .589.
That’s a considerable, noticeable, and significant dip in success.
As food for thought, it’s worth noting that the entire league performs better at home than on the road, but not to this degree. As of this writing, the NHL’s cumulative home record is 680-465-119, for a point-percentage of .585, and the road record is 584-537-143, for a point-percentage of .519.
So, the Canucks still win plenty on the road. But they do lose more steam from home to the road than the average NHL team does, and that alone is probably reason to be grateful to be heading into the playoffs with at least some home-ice advantage.
Of course, the overall record of a team is only one way by which we can measure success.
The Offence and The Defence
At home, the Canucks have scored 140 goals through 40 games, and allowed 98 against. That’s a GF/GP of 3.50 and a GA/GP of 2.45 (fourth-lowest in the league.)
When they take their show on the road, the Canucks have scored 130 goals through 39 games, and allowed 117 against. That’s a GF/GP 3.33 and a GA/GP of 3.00.
And that seems highly significant. The Canucks score slightly less on the road than they do at home. That’s perhaps to be expected, what with the last change and all those other little advantages.
But the Canucks also allow more than an extra half-goal-against per away game, and that’s quite the discrepancy.
This alone goes a long way toward explaining the Canucks’ poorer record away than at home, and is something that has to be a topic of conversation in practice as the team gears up for its final two regular season road-trips of 2023/24.
The Analytics
Of course, these days, there’s more on the table than simple wins, losses, and goals by which to measure a team.
We are on the cusp of the playoffs, where wins, losses, and goals are pretty much all that matters, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take one last sojourn into analytic territory to see if it confirms the trend we’re noticing already in this article.
Here, the Canucks have some fine fancy stats at 5v5, including a 52.43% Corsi, a 53.58% xGF%, a 54.18% control of scoring chances, and a 55.12% of high-danger chances (the seventh-highest rate in the league.)
On the road, on the other hand, we see a slightly different and slightly worse picture. A 50.76% Corsi at 5v5, a 50.91% xGF%, a 52.11% control of scoring chances, and a 52.14% control of high-danger chances.
If there’s any reason for encouragement in these findings, it’s that the drop-off is nearly as steep here as it is with the raw record or goals for/against. Here, the Canucks are only losing a couple of percentage points between home and away, something that could probably easily be attributed to those small, direct home-ice advantages like having the last change.
But it is still another sign that the Canucks are better off playing at home as much as possible.
Individual Players
It’s not just the Canucks as a team that seem far more effective at home than on the road. It’s most of their best players, too.
At home, the Canucks’ top trio sport PPG rates above 1.00, including JT Miller (1.45), Quinn Hughes (1.28), and Elias Pettersson (1.13). Brock Boeser also clears 1.00 with a 1.03 PPG at home.
Everyone drops on the road, but some more than others. For away games, it’s Pettersson and Miller tied for the lead at 1.10, representing a .35 dip for Miller and a .03 dip for Pettersson. Hughes drops .25 down to 1.03, and Boeser drops .19 down to .82.
There are a few other discrepancies worth noting. Pius Suter has a 0.52 PPG at home, but just a 0.33 PPG on the road. And if there’s a road warrior to be found, it’s perhaps surprisingly Filip Hronek. He’s got just 17 points at home for a PPG of 0.43, but a full 31 on the road for a PPG of 0.79.
Nobody else sees as big a swing in their production from home to away, and at least in this case it can be seen as a positive for the Canucks, who seem to need more help on the road than they do in Rogers Arena.
Intangible Considerations
Speaking of Rogers Arena, there’s something that we can’t really measure, but can guess at, and that’s the level of fan excitement. This will be the Canucks’ first time in the playoffs since 2020, but their first time in the playoffs with fans in the building since 2015.
There are only a handful of teams that have gone longer without home postseason action, and none of them are making it in this year. The Canucks thus have a home-ice advantage in the form of an audience that is very, very excited to see them at home.
Aside from that, the intangibles are hard to gauge. We might suggest that head coach Rick Tocchet takes less of an edge from home-ice advantage than the average coach, just because he isn’t one to obsess over line-matching.
We might also suggest that, as the league’s hardest-traveling team, the Canucks draw more comparative benefit from an extra game at home than do anyone else.
But all such considerations are only so much in the face of the great mystery that is how these Canucks will perform when the blades actually hit the ice on April 20.
And for that round, at least, the home-ice advantage is already secured.
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