Friday, May 2, 2014

Manchester Facing Elimination After Opting to Give Up Home Ice Advantage

Much digital (and real) ink has been spilled over the concept of a five-game series where the higher-seeded team starts on the road. The Stars did it and ended up winning in a sweep. Elsewhere, no team that started on the road in this 2-3 format was down 0-2 after those first two games. The away team went 2-0 in three of those series, and the teams split in the other two.

(Credit: Manchester Monarchs)
One thing that was not widely discussed was the fact that the home team has the option to defer home ice advantage. The higher seed can opt to give up their advantage and start a series at home. This does guarantee that they have to close out the series on the road, and it also only gives them two games at home in a five game series.

Only one team chose this option: the East's top-seeded Manchester Monarchs. And it looks like it backfired.

The Monarchs could not press their advantage at home. They won 2-0 in Game 1. After leading 2-0 in Game 2, they gave up the lead and lost on a goal by William Karlsson, who has played just 11 games in North America. Manchester needed to get two of three heading to Norfolk to move on in the series.

On Wednesday night, Norfolk's Yann Sauve scored the only goal of Game 3 to put the Monarchs on the ropes. After a season that saw them collect 105 points and come this close to earning the Kilpatrick Trophy, the Kings affiliate has to win both Friday and Saturday's games in Virginia to advance past the first round. If they don't, an eight seed will beat a one seed for the first time since the league moved to the current playoff format in 2012.

What can this teach us? Unless the Stars meet San Antonio in the playoffs, they will almost always be opening the playoffs with a 2-3 series. If the second round moves to a five-game series, as has been posited by AHL president Dave Andrews, the same will be true.

Perhaps it was hubris a bit to assume that the Monarchs would put up two wins at home. You'd much rather be down 2-1 with two home games remaining than two away games, right? Hindsight is 20/20 and I think the Monarchs are seeing very clearly now.


1 comment:

  1. Francis Wathier is one of the few players that is busting his butt on the ice. What is wrong with NHL that they haven`t grab this man....Good work Francis, so proud of you for your hard work and your determination. Have a nice rest with the beautiful family and hoping NHL will wake up and come get you next year....Love You Sue Charette

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