Home ice no edge thus far in playoffs

by John Kreiser / NHL.com
Remember the home-ice advantage? The thing everyone is so desperate for in the playoffs? Four days into this year's postseason, home ice has been anything but an advantage.

With 15 games in the books, home teams have won all of five contests. None of the eight teams that opened with two games at home won both of them -- and two visiting teams, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, swept both games.

For all the effort teams put into getting the home-ice advantage, it hasn't been much of an edge in the opening round in the last couple of seasons. Home teams went just 23-26 in the first round last spring and were just 22-27 in 2009-10. The last time home teams were above .500 in the opening round was 2008-09, when they won 24 of the 44 games played.

Playing at home hasn't been much help in overtime, either. Seven of the first 15 games played this spring have gone past regulation -- and five have been won by the guys in the white sweaters.
The seven OT games on the first four days of the playoffs are a single-season record; there were seven OT games on the first four nights of actual competition in 1989, but 32 games were played on April 5-6-8-9 -- back then, teams opened the playoffs with four games in five nights.

Blasting away -- The shots on goal totals in the Capitals-Bruins series show Boston with a 74-56 advantage; substantial but not enormous. To get an idea of how much the Bruins have dominated play, you have to dig a little deeper.

Braden Holtby
Goalie - WSH
RECORD: 1-1-0
GAA: 0.83 | SVP: 0.973
Though two games, the Bruins have fired 147 shots at rookie goaltender Braden Holtby. He's stopped 72 -- but his teammates have blocked 49 more and the B's missed the target 25 times. Washington has managed just 96 shot attempts. Boston has blocked 23 shots (four fewer than Washington's total in Game 2 alone), and the Caps missed the net 17 times.

The difference in shots on goal is just nine per game; the discrepancy in attempts is 25.5 per contest (61-43 in Game 1 and 86-55 in Game 2).

Even Washington captain Alex Ovechkin has struggled to get shots on goal -- he has just four in two games. But he's been making an impact in other ways; his 12 hits in the two games are the most of any player on either team.

Can't get two -- It remains 18 years and counting since the New York Rangers have opened a playoff series with back-to-back wins at home.

Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss to Ottawa prevented the Rangers from starting a series 2-0 with consecutive wins at Madison Square Garden for the first time since they opened the second round in 1994 by beating Washington in the first two games.

Overtime has never been especially kind to the Rangers -- the loss dropped them to 31-39 all-time in playoff games that go past the regulation 60 minutes. Ottawa's win at 1:17 of OT marked the fastest overtime at Madison Square Garden in 32 years, since they needed just 33 seconds to beat the Atlanta Flames in 1980, and the fastest overtime loss for the Rangers at the Garden since the Islanders' J.P. Parise scored at 11 seconds to win the third and deciding game of their preliminary-round series in 1975.

Nor can they -- As disappointed as the Rangers must have been, they can't hold a candle to the way the Phoenix Coyotes feel today.

Patrick Sharp
Left Wing - CHI
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 1
SOG: 9 | +/-: 0
The Coyotes were 5.5 seconds away from taking a 2-0 lead in a series for the first time in 25 years. Instead, they allowed a goal by Patrick Sharp that sent the game into overtime before Bryan Bickel's goal at 10:36 of OT gave Chicago a stunning 4-3 win and a split of the first two games in the desert.

The loss was the 14th in 22 home games for the Coyotes since they moved from Winnipeg 16 years ago. The franchise hasn't lead 2-0 in a series since 1987, when the then-Jets won the first two games on the way to a six-game victory against Calgary -- the team's only victory in a best-of-seven series since entering the NHL in 1979.

Two-headed monster -- St. Louis' goaltending tandem of Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak combined for a League-high 15 shutouts during the regular season, the most by a team in more than 40 years. But the Blues' dynamic duo took teamwork to a new level on Saturday night.
For only the third time in Stanley Cup history, two goaltenders combined for a playoff shutout. Halak stopped 12 San Jose shots before leaving with an injury, and Elliott came on to make 17 more saves as the Blues blanked the Sharks 3-0.

In something that's likely a first in history of awarding the three stars of the game, both Blues goaltenders were honored -- Elliott was named the second star and Halak the third.