Saturday, February 25, 2012

Canucks end Red Wings home ice dominance, for now

The Red Wings home winning streak ended at 23 Thursday night against the Canucks. Vancouver played an excellent game and out shot the Wings, but still needed a late game-tying goal to send it into overtime and then a shootout where Alexandre Burrows would be the hero.


"We got outshot (17-5) in the first, and Howie did a good job for us just to survive the first," Babcock said. "As the game went on, we got better. They dominated in the overtime and then won in the shootout. We can skate way better than this." (

A loss at home was bound to happen to the Wings, and it probably is better that it happens now. It might not make Wings' fans feel better about losing to the West's defending champ, but the streak shows the consistency that the Wings bring to the rink every night. The key now is for Detroit to start another streak at home and make sure they finish ahead of St. Louis in the Central Division and as the # 1 or 2 seed.

Continued dominance at home is important, but winning on the road might be even more important. The past few years in the playoffs have shown us that road teams may actually have an edge because of the pressure the host feels to win Games 1 and 7. The last 2 of 3 Finals were decided in a Game 7 and the road team won both (Pittsburgh and Boston). Detroit, while average on the road, will want to take the quality play at home and put it on the road.

Why do some teams play better at home, while others are better on the road? Why does Detroit dominate at home and so-so on the road, while Philadelphia has struggled at home and yet is one of the best teams on the road? There is really no clear answer to this question. One potential answer is the style of play exhibited by teams home versus away. At home there may be an added burden to be offensive and give the home crowd an entertaining game. On the road, who cares. You keep it simple, do not give up many chances, and try to win one-goal game. At least that is the philosophy of many teams.

Road teams also do not have all of the distractions of being at home, but they also do not have the comforts of home. Further, home teams may feel more pressure to win at home, however, road teams are not always as confident about their chances on the road.

As you can see there is no clear answer as to why the Wings dominate at home, but are average on the road. My best guess is that it has to do with how they prepare to play a fast, skilled game at home. On the road, maybe they are trying to be something than who they are as a team, and then again, maybe not.

What has been borne out the last few years in the playoffs is that teams win the Cup by winning on the road. Detroit will want to start building positive momentum on the road even if they do finish as the #1 seed. Knowing that you are likely to win at least one on the road relieves some of the pressure of having to win all of your home games in the playoffs.

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