I’ve been doing some number crunching over the past couple of days regarding power plays and how they are awarded in the WHL this season. This has been brought on by the vast difference in power play chances for Portland on the road this season…but more on that in a moment.
After the games played last night in the WHL, there have been exactly 300 games played in the 2010-11 season. I was curious to see if there is a home ice advantage when it comes to power play opportunities. Here is what I dug up:
In the 300 games, the power play breakout is as follow:
Total Power Plays Awarded: 2,966
Awarded to the Home Team: 1,587 (53.5%)
Awarded to the Road Team: 1,379 (46.5%)
Now, the difference of 208 power plays (or .69/game) doesn’t seem like a huge difference. But, if you do the math over 72 games, that means that the home team, on average, will have just under 50 (49.92) more power plays than the road team.
How does this compare to 2009-10 you ask? Last season, the breakdown was:
Total Power Plays Awarded: 7,408
Awarded to the Home Team: 3,882 (52.4%)
Awarded to the Road Team: 3,526 (47.6%)
So, the home team in 2010-11 has slightly more than last year (.24/game). On average in 2009-10, the home team had 32.4 more power plays than their opponents.
So, what’s my point you ask?
Well, I got started on this number crunching after realizing just how many power plays the opposition teams has had on home ice when facing the Portland Winterhawks. The numbers are staggering…
In 15 road games, the Winterhawks have had 57 power plays. In the same 15 games, the opposition has had 97 power plays…40 more than the Hawks. That figures to 2.66 more power plays a game for the home team. Somehow, despite this huge difference the Hawks have managed to go 11-3-0-1 on the road.
On home ice, the power plays have been even for Portland – 79 for/79 against.
If you remember from above, there have been 208 more home power plays in total in the WHL. Portland is responsible for nearly 20% of that margin. But it goes deeper than that…
There is only one other team remotely close to Portland as far as power play deficiency in road games. That team is the Saskatoon Blades. They too have played 15 road games with exactly the same number of power play chances with 57. They have had to face 94 chances against – a difference of 37. They also have fought through it to post a 10-5-0-0 road record. For the record, Saskatoon had had three more power plays than against on home (56-53).
So, of the 208 extra home power plays in 2009-10, 37% or 77 opportunities have been faced by two teams (meaning that, on average, the other 20 teams have a difference of just seven fewer road power plays for the season) – the Portland Winterhawks and the Saskatoon Blades – the two top teams in the WHL as far as win percentage goes. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I could have a field day with this.
But I know there isn’t a third official on the grassy knoll making these calls…and I know there isn’t a movement in place to penalize the Hawks and Blades for being good road teams, but the numbers certainly are interesting. I know that many a road game I’ve looked at the stats and can’t figure out how the power plays finished 8-3 or 7-4 against.
Sometimes statistics just make you say hmmm….