Friday, April 24, 2009

So What's "Home Ice Advantage"???

Above: Martin Biron slammed the door on the Penguins last night including 18 shots in a first period Penguins onslaught.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers have both proven once again that the idea of playing in front of your home fans gives you some added advantage is one of the biggest fallacies ever foisted onto the ticket-buying public. The Martin Biron 3-0 shutout of the Penguins on Mellon Arena ice last night comes on the heels of the "Flower's" 3-1 defeat of the Flyers at the Wacko Center. In both cases, the goalies, not the fans, made the difference.

In Pittsburgh the fans wore White. In Philadelphia, they wore orange. Didn't matter. In this series, more than any I can remember in a long time, the goaltenders have completely taken over center stage. I was thinking about the opportunity lost last night and how now the Penguins faced the very real possibility of losing in Philadelphia and having to play a game seven in Pittsburgh. Losing game six is never a good thing and more often than not, the game six winner ends up taking game seven wherever it's played.

So depending upon who is the better goaltender in Philly tomorrow, that's whose team will win. Orange jerseys, obnoxious cheers, boorish behavior will have nothing to do with who wins. So fret not Penguin fans. If "The Butcher of Pittsburgh" can sharpen his meat cleaver, we'll be moving onto the second round.

As much as we'd all like to think that the fans have something to do with it, we don't. Just ask the Steelers who won SuperBowl XL winning every game on the road or any of the terrific Steeler teams who lost the AFC Championship Games at home!

Above:"The Butcher" didn't play bad last night. It was Martin Biron's turn to stand on his head in goal. But make no mistake about it, how he plays will be the biggest factor in determining if the Penguins advance.

Statistically, it would be very interesting to see how the home court, home field, home ice advantage plays out among all the major sports and colleges and what the overall combined winning percentage is for the home team. It's probably a lot closer to .500 than you might think.

So enjoy dressing up, painting your face and making signs. Just don't think you had anything to do with the team winning. You were just fortunate enough to witness it live.