On the final day of the regular season, before his team clinched home ice in the first round of the playoffs with a 1-0 shootout victory over the Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper wondered if the NHL would ever consider changing its home and road playoff format.
“Having home ice is unreal if you win the first two, if you take care of it,” Cooper told a small group of reporters at Verizon Center. “If you don’t, all of a sudden it becomes a negative for you.”
A little more than a week later, the Lightning are trailing their first-round playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens, three games to none. Tampa lost its first two games at home and the Canadiens seized control of the series with a Game 3 victory in Montreal.
Which brings us to Cooper’s suggestion.
He wonders if home-ice advantage would be better served if the team with home ice started with Game 1 on the road. Games 2, 3 and 4 would be on home ice, followed by Game 5 on the road, Game 6 at home and Game 7 on the road.
“That’s home ice to me,” Cooper said. “I haven’t done the research, but I’m fairly certain that more series are ended in Games 4, 5 and 6 than Game 7. So why would the home ice just be in the last game?”
With the help of Elias Sports Bureau, we did the research and here’s the breakdown:
In a total of 607 best-of-seven Stanley Cup playoff series entering this post-season, there have been 110 series decided in four games; 157 decided in five games; 191 decided in six games; and 149 decided in seven games.
Cooper also wondered how often the home team won a Game 7, saying, “In basketball it seems to be a major advantage at home, Hockey, for whatever reason, isn’t.”
Caps fans know this for a fact. They’ve seen the Caps lose each of their last three Game Sevens on home ice.
But according to Elias Sports Bureau, home ice is an advantage in Game Sevens, with the home team owning a 90-59 record heading into these playoffs.
What are your thoughts on a 1-3-1-1-1 playoff series?