There are many things required to be a successful sports team. Talent, skill, effort level and good coaching among them. However, if you look at the cream of the crop, they all have one thing in common: they make their building a fearful one for opponents. Last year’s Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins dominated their way to a 31-6-4 record at home, ranking first with 3.80 goals per game at PPG Paints Arena. The runner up Nashville Predators went 24-9-8 at home and ranked fourth with 3.20 goals per game at Bridgestone Arena. The bottom line is, good teams win at home, and they do it consistently. While we are just over two months into the season, there are a handful of teams who are making their arena a very difficult place for the opposition. Let’s look at the NHL’s best home teams and how they are getting it done in their respective barns.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Home Record: 13-2-1 (.813)
Considering they lead the NHL with 50 points for the season, it’s clear the Lighting are getting it done wherever they play. However, Amalie Arena has been no place for the opposition this season. Tampa Bay ranks third with four goal per game at home, but are also stout on the back end. They are yielding only 2.56 goals per game on home ice, good for an 11th place tie with Winnipeg. A better indication of their home dominance is their 1.44 average goal differential, the second best number in the league. Some teams get it done on offense, some on defense. These Lightning are elite at both ends of the ice.
Vegas Golden Knights
Home Record: 13-2-1 (.813)
The expansion Golden Knights are tied with Tampa Bay for the NHL’s top home winning percentage, and we can guarantee you it’s not due to opposition hangovers. Like every team on this list, the Golden Knights are scoring at home where they tally 3.69 goals per game, good for fifth. However, despite missing their top two goaltenders for a big chunk of the season, they are a very stingy defensive team at home. Their 2.38 goals against per game at home ranks eighth and their 30.3 shots against per game is tied for 11th. Like Tampa, Vegas has a nice average goal differential at home with their 1.31 mark checking in at third. Their play on home ice is a huge reason why they continue to shock the hockey world.
Home Record: 12-3-1 (.750)
You don’t want to run into the Jets in the first round of the playoffs. That’s if you wish to play in the second round. The Jets have been simply lethal at home where they have scored 4.13 goals per game (2nd) and surrendered just 2.56 (T-11th). That 1.56 average goal differential is the top mark in the NHL. The Jets have been among the league’s top offensive teams for a few years, but now they’re getting goaltending. Connor Hellebuyck has stepped up and taken over the crease in Winnipeg, and he too has been lights out at home. He owns a 2.15 GAA and a .927 Sv% at home compared to a 2.83 GAA and a .911 Sv% on the road. If Hellebuyck and this improved Jets defensive group can continue to play this well, this is a very dangerous club, especially at home.
Home Record: 14-5-0 (.736)
The Capitals have turned up the heat lately, going 8-2-0 over their last ten and now sit second in a busy Metropolitan Division. While they’ve been good overall lately, they’ve been lights out at home as they’ve won six straight and eight of their last nine at Capital One Arena. Washington’s offense is a fairly balanced group in terms of home/road splits, but their defense is not. The Caps yield the most goals per game on the road at 3.73, but rank second with a 2.21 mark at home. Veteran goaltender Braden Holtby’s drastic splits are the same of his team. Holtby has a disastrous 3.68 GAA and an .890 Sv% on the road, but a dynamite 2.06 GAA and a .935 Sv% at home. Improved road play is required, but the Caps are resembling their old selves when they’re at home.
Home Record: 11-2-2 (.733)
As mentioned, the Preds ranked fourth last season in home offense and this season their 3.73 goals per game at home also ranks fourth. Interestingly, they haven’t been all that good defensively or in goal at home. Their 2.93 goals against per game at home ranks 20th, their .908 Sv% at home ranks 18th and their 77.2% mark on the penalty kill is 25th. However, their home power play is tops in the NHL at a whopping 35.6% clip. Unlike the previous four teams, the Predators aren’t getting it done at both ends of the ice. However, their offense is certainly doing their part, while we can expect some improved play from the back end moving forward.
New York Islanders
Home Record: 10-2-2 (.714)
The Islanders are certainly one of the NHL’s most exciting teams to watch this season, especially at home. Their 4.29 goals per game at the Barclays Center paces the NHL, but they are also giving up 3.14 goals per game at home, good for 25th. They are getting just a .900 Sv% out of their goaltending at home (24th) and their penalty kill sits at a measly 75% at home (T-27th). Thankfully, their home power play ranks eighth at 22.9%. The Islanders are getting it done at home almost purely based on offense. It leaves them vulnerable to be sure, but for now they’ve made the Barclays Center a tough place for the opposition.
Home Record: 10-4-0 (.714)
The Stars have played just 14 of their 34 games at home, but they’ve made them count. They are another team getting it done at both ends of the ice. They’ve scored 3.43 goals per game at American Airlines Center (ninth) and yielded just 2.43 (ninth). That 1.00 average goal differential at home is tied for the sixth best mark in the league. Their .918 Sv% at home sits in an eighth place tie, but their .891 mark on the road is in a 25th place tie. Ben Bishop has been disastrous on the road this season, leading to more nods for backup Kari Lehtonen. Their 8-10-2 mark on the road leaves plenty to be desired, but Dallas is a force at home this season.