Home Ice Power Play Advantage…

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….






  1. Andy, Interesting numbers… Was there ever a resolution to the Teal Burns holding call last night when he wasn’t even on the ice at the time? I wasn’t able to make it to the game but was able to multi-task and listen to your radio broadcast off and on so I wasn’t sure if you were able to give an answer over the airways or not… Just one of those fluky calls?

  2. Just my .02 but in every game I’ve seen the Hawks play this year, we take 2-3 dumb penalties every game. The Spokane game on Nov. 21st was a perfect example. 3rd period we get 2 PP opportunities and Sven and Ryan take dumb penalties to make it 4 on 4 each time. I can give example after example in nearly all games where this has happened. We seem to have a problem with discipline and playing smart hockey when we need it most. Also I see periods of time in each game where we sit back on our heels and let the other team dictate play. We stand and watch the play and get caught reacting to plays and players. This is another time when we seem to get penalties above and beyond the usual

  3. I Love to reason out number stats.
    I agree with your statement about the grassy knoll and all. I think the reality of the statistic could be based in 2 things .

    1. Back to back game officiating by the same officials. I know it saves money and travel, but it’s wrong. I dont care who you are, if you do a job one day you develop opinions about the people you work with. This opinion is carried to your next encounter and colors your reactions. The sooner the encounter, the stronger the likelihood of adverse reactions.

    2. Team psychology is different on the road than at home. Winning teams “gear up” mentally for away games. The simple fact that they have a successful model (winning team) means they are REALLY good at gearing up. So in essence they are heavily invested in winning and the potential for “crossing the line” is a definite reality.
    Of course I could be WAY out in left field and totally wrong.
    Thanks for the number crunching!!!

  4. Oh . . . I forgot.
    Regarding the previous post about taking dumb penalties. . .from the games I’ve seen and listened to – I think they actually play better 4 on 4 than they do 5 on 4.
    That would be an interesting number crunch.
    (and I wasnt dissing the post it’s just an observation)

  5. I’ve was at the grassy knoll and do believe it wasn’t it was oswald. I also have thought for quite a while this season that there is a strong bias by the officials against the Hawks. It may be that Johnson doesn’t complain and whine or that Gabriel-type mouthing off isn’t accepted. what ever I think your numbers indicate a bias against the top teams

  6. The ‘Hawks have taken a ton of dumb penalties over the last two seasons, IMO. Against Kooeneay there was only one ref, and Ross was beneficial by having several cross-checks & the like go unpunished – as well as the instance where Boychuck got his centerman tossed on a draw at center ice. Hanson was clearly frustrated with his stickwork prior to the draw, and put him in the circle to take the faceoff. Immediately after the puck drop Boychuck again got his stick up against the opposing centerman – but Hanson didn’t notice.

    Jordan is behaving really well this season, but the rest of the hat trick of Ross & Boychuck are still making poor decisions in the eyes of the officials. You don’t get ‘reputation calls’ without developing a reputation.

    Even then, that doesn’t account for the numbers that you have came up with, Andy. Interesting indeed. Its a good thing the PK has been as good as it is – its actually a pleasure to watch them work most nights.

  7. Okay, I’ll be the one to ask it: what’s Andy Thiessen’s problem with Portland?

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