Home Ice Advantage?
Wednesday night, June 12, marks the opening of the 2012-13 Stanley Cup Finals. My broadcast partner, Tom Callahan, and I will alternate previewing and reviewing each of the games from the Finals as the series progresses.
As we look forward to the series opener, I’d like to focus on home ice advantage. Specifically asking the question, does it benefit Chicago? The Blackhawks will host Games One and Two, as well as Games Five and Seven if necessary, as compensation for their 1st overall regular season finish.
A playoff series doesn’t get interesting until the team with the home advantage loses a game. I’ve always liked that old adage. But how will it factor in Boston vs. Chicago 2013?
Chicago boasts a regular season home record of 18-3-3. Add to that the club has lost just one time in the post season inside the confines of the “Madhouse on Madison.” That’s a home record of 9-1 during the playoffs. Chicago unquestionably holds an advantage as the 2012-13 Stanley Cup Finals open. Correct? Well, if looking at it through a narrow lens, you’re probably right.
But consider this. The Bruins, as the Eastern Conference fourth seed, don’t graduate to the Cup Finals because they can’t win on the road. The Bruins have assembled a very respectable road record of 5-2 in the post season. This is a gritty club that plays a very hard-nosed defensive-minded brand of hockey whether home or away. You’ll often hear Bruins’ coach Julien refer to “layers of defense” as he discusses the reasons for Boston’s success.
And take a wider view for the moment. The Bruins, as Stanley Cup Champions in 2011, also yielded home ice advantage to the Western Conference champion Vancouver Canucks. I found that series an extremely interesting and entertaining one to watch for the following reason. If you recall, it took Boston four tries until they finally solved Vancouver in Vancouver. I thought Boston played progressively better in Games 1,2 and 5 in Vancouver. However, the essential road win eluded them until Game 7 when they finally upset the Canucks in their own building to win it all.
The point I am making is this. Boston retains most of that very strong core that led this club to the Championship in 2011. Chara, Lucic, Bergeron, Krejci, Horton, Marchand, Ference, etc. That team was determined, patient and got better at playing its opposition as the series wore on. They came up with their most inspired performance of the series with the series on the line in a visiting rink.
Do the 2012-13 Bruins benefit from the experience of 2011? Can they win in Chicago? Or are the Blackhawks just too good this time around? Should be interesting.
See you around the rink.