When I took a look at the home and road splits at the halfway point there wasn't nearly as much separation between the two sets of data as I would have expected. Let's see if things have changed with a full season's worth of data.
(For those unfamiliar with the metric a player is awarded a chance any time someone on the ice has a chance to score. He is awarded with a “chance for” if someone on his team has a chance and awarded with a “chance against” if someone on the opposing team has a chance to score. The results are broken down into three game states, EV (even strength), PP (Power Play) and SH (Short-Handed). The players are organized according to their jersey numbers.)
Home Games One Through Forty-One, October 12 to April 10
Missing Games 40 vs San Jose and 81 vs Calgary
21 = Potulny and 21* = Kotalik
Road Games One Through Forty-One, October 15 to April 11
Missing Games 22 at St. Louis, 33 at Vancouver and 82 at Calgary
21 = Potulny and 21* = Kotalik
These results start show the advantage of playing on home ice more than the mid-season results. No one does significantly better on the road than they do at home (Visnovsky's chance differential is 12 better on the road than it is at home which leads the team). This should put to bed any idea that the Oilers played better on the road than they did at home, an idea further buttressed by their goal differential even if it doesn't show up so much in the record (18-17-6 at home and 20-18-3 on the road). The reason for the discrepancy looks like one part shootout records and one part luck. On to some of the interesting totals:
Nilsson - -7 at home and -6 on the road. By no means are these great totals but they do speak to the fact that MacTavish was able to shelter the players he wanted to shelter both at home and on the road. Nilsson needs to be able to win the chance battle if he's being sheltered, so it's fair to say his lack of productivity is one reason the Oilers didn't play in May. The same can be said of:
Gagner - +7 at home and -5 on the road. Gagner improved a lot this season but he was mostly getting easy minutes against mid-level competition. For this team to be a winner Gagner is going to need to outchance big in these minutes. The lack of difference between home and road results again speak well of MacTavish I'd say. Well, either that or he's terrible at matching lines but you'd think other teams would be taking advantage of the young guys unless there's no reason to wait for them...
Moreau - -34 at home and -62 on the road. There's no reason to wait for them. Moreau plays a hard style so he's probably a little bit "tougher to play against" in that sense but his results are terrible. He does better at home than he did on the road which leaves me to wonder if MacTavish may have sheltered him a bit more at home. If only Behind the Net split data into home and road splits! I also have this question of:
Hemsky - +20 at home and -15 on the road. Almost all of this difference is felt in the second half since his home and road results were about the same at that time (and both were good). The difference is especially striking when compared to Horcoff whose results were much closer together (+5 at home and -3 on the road) in spite of receiving the more difficult minutes.
Grebeshkov - +38 at home and -13 on the road. Those are some pretty different numbers. I don't think it was much to do with the Visnovsky effect because (1) Visnovsky only played two more home games than road games and (2) Visnovsky actually had better results on the road than at home. A deeper analysis might pick up more influence but those preliminary points suggest that either Grebs was a much better player at home or MacTavish was able to get him more favourable match-ups more often. Another thing pointing in that direction is:
Gilbert - +13 at home and -37 on the road. Again, quite different stories but not as much to like as with Grebs. With a d-man likely on the way out this summer these guys won't be able to avoid the toughest home minutes if Souray or Visnovsky is on the way out. Hopefully they can rise to that challenge.