Frozen Tool Forensics: Home Sweet Home

Chris Kane

2022-03-18

When considering fantasy, I have never put much weight into home ice advantage. Not because I believe it doesn't exist, it clearly does, home teams have a better winning percentage on average. There are literal rules embedded in the game that support the home team (on line changes, faceoffs), plus all of the unquantified factors of sleeping in your own bed, familiar routines and the support of the crowd (hopefully). That doesn't even take into account the unconscious biases that see home teams get more power-plays and scorekeeper effects that tend to boost the home team's shot, hit, and block counts.

All things being equal, it makes sense that a player's fantasy value might be higher at home with a greater potential for power-plays and slightly inflated counting stats. That being said, I have never really found that "all things are equal" and in the examples where I really might use this information (sit/start decisions, short streams etc.) I find that the massive randomness inherent in hockey seems to have a much larger impact than the home-ice advantage.

Thanks to the guys over on Keeping Karlsson, I was recently alerted to the curious case of Samuel Bennett. He has played 27 games at home and 23 games away this season. As of March 16, he has 28 points at home (an 85 full season pace), and eight points in away games (for a 30 point pace). He is shooting 4.22 times per game at home, and 2.52 times when away and is putting up .24 power-play points per game at home (about 20 points full season), and .043 power-play points per game at home (about a 3.5-point pace). This was wild to me – a huge home/away difference that seems really to fly in the face of the small effects we might otherwise see.

So that got me wondering, are there other examples of this this season?

It should come as no surprise to anyone that over at Frozen Tools you can pretty easily search for these splits. Pick your time period and you can grab the Home/Away report and it will give you all players’ production (goals, assists, points, power-play goals and points, shots, hits, and penalty minutes) at home and away. For the purposes of this article, I exported the report, selected a few columns to focus on (points, power-play points, and shots), and put them at a per-game level for easy comparison.

On average, and not shockingly, players perform better in these categories at home. The list included some 800 players so the per-game numbers end up being pretty small, but the difference is clear. NHL players on average put up .071 shots per game more at home, score .0325 points at home, and .018 power-play points. League wide, those are pretty small impacts: about seven shots, three and a half poin