How the Pittsburgh Penguins play at home versus on the road has been different than other teams this season.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have had an interesting season in terms of playing at home versus playing on the road. Most fans would likely say that they look much better at home than on the road and a lot of the stats would point towards that as well. Look closely, however, and you’ll see that home-ice advantage is actually crucial for the Penguins, especially as they try and make history.
Currently, the Penguins have won 16 of their last 18 games at home while getting a point in 17 of them. Both of their only two losses have come at the hands of the New Jersey Devils, a team Pittsburgh has yet to beat this season. This has been their best stretch of playing at home all season. Overall, their home record is 28-8-2. Their road record, however, is at 15-19-4, which is at the bottom half of the league. Their 28 wins are the second most home wins for any team in hockey as they are one behind the Winnipeg Jets. If they win their last three, they’ll tie the number of home wins they had last year when they went 31-6-4 at home.
As Jesse Marshall of The Athletic pointed out on Twitter, there are two things that stand out when you look at their home/road performances:
"1. They generate less shots and scoring chances on the road than they do at home by a noticeable margin.2. Their save percentage at home is 93 percent versus just 89 percent on the road."
Their goaltending is a lot better at home but the most interesting part is how, recently, they’ve scored very similar on the road compared to at home, especially in their last ten games of each. Dating back to their last ten home games, they’ve scored 39 goals combined in all of those games. Now compare that to their last ten road games, they’ve scored 40 goals combined.
Now, while they definitely don’t generate as many scoring chances and shots on the road compared to at home overall, they’re still able to score. The problem is that they’re giving up way too many chances on the road and it’s costing them games. Just last week, they played the New York Rangers and were up 2-0 going into the third period. They came out and played one of the worst periods they’ve had in awhile and they ended up losing in overtime 4-3. They gave up way too many chances and it’s not something they do more of at home.
Pittsburgh ends up playing well for bits but then they have a bad few minutes and teams take advantage of it and score a couple goals. The biggest key for the Penguins going forward though is to obviously clean up their mistakes on the road. Now they do make these mistakes at home, they’re not at the level on the road though. They’re a very hard team to play against when they’re scoring like they usually do and playing suffocating defense which is how they won back in 2016.
Overall, Pittsburgh will need home ice if they want to win another Stanley Cup. It’s been crucial for them in their last two runs as they haven’t dropped many games at home. In 2016, they went 9-4 at home and last year, they went 10-3 starting out on the road. If they can also clean up their play on the road and limit the others teams’ scoring chances, they will again be a very tough out this postseason.