By DAVE TURNER
With the playoffs now upon us, sixteen teams will go to battle starting Wednesday with one goal in mind: to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup. Home ice advantage certainly plays a role, as the home team benefits from the volume of the crowd, as well as the ability to rattle the opposition. For these rankings both historical information and the team's current fan engagement level are taken into account to decide which team has the very best home ice advantage in the playoffs this season. (Note: Seatgeek.com statistics were taken as of late Sunday night and may change)
16. Nashville Predators (Bridgestone Arena)
Cheapest home game No.1 ticket via SeatGeek.com – $80
Nashville fans have really started to embrace hockey. For the Predators, their opening round matchup makes it very tough for them to have a true home-ice advantage with Chicago coming to town. The Blackhawks are notorious for sending thousands of fans to Nashville and though those dressed in yellow and blue will be loud, they'll have some competition in their own building.
15. Ottawa Senators (Canadian Tire Center)
Cheapest home game No.1 ticket via SeatGeek.com – $117
Don't be mistaken, Canadian Tire Center will be loud come game three against the Canadiens. Whether it's the fact that they became a team in 1990 once much of Canada had aligned elsewhere, or because they're yet to win a title, Ottawa sometimes lacks the type of raucous atmosphere that is synonymous with hockey north of the border.
14. Washington Capitals (Verizon Center)
Cheapest home game No.1 ticket via SeatGeek.com – $64
The Caps at No.14 was a hard one, as fans have packed the Verizon Center with regularity and ticket prices are always high. Despite having a great group of loyal fans, the Caps still seem to lack that hockey pedigree that you see from other places around the league. Even still, Verizon Center will be no easy skating for opponents.
13. St. Louis Blues (Scottrade Center)
Cheapest home game No.1 ticket via SeatGeek.com – $63
Blues fans enter the playoffs with a bit of caution. St. Louis finished off another great regular season, but with their playoff struggles the past two seasons, fans in St. Louis are chomping at the bit for playoff success. With a talented team, Scottrade will explode with every goal, but a poor effort in games one or two might make for some anxious fans.
12. Anaheim Ducks (Honda Center)
Cheapest home game No.1 ticket via SeatGeek.com – $43
With their unique bellowing goal horn, Anaheim Ducks fans have grown accustomed to success over the past ten-plus seasons. When the Ducks won their first cup in 2007, fans around Southern California began to catch some of the passion that "traditional" hockey markets have. Though the Honda Center can be plenty loud, they're not quite as boisterous as some of the other buildings in the field.
11. Tampa Bay Lightning (Amalie Arena)
Cheapest home game No.1 ticket via SeatGeek.com – $59
Tampa Bay might not exactly be known for it's incredibly passionate fan base, but with a fun and exciting team, they've packed Amalie Arena all year. The Lightning finished with the best home record in all of hockey, posting a 32-8-1 mark at home. Now that's home ice advantage. They do lack a bit of the true passion as some of the more "classical" hockey markets, or they'd be even higher.
10. Pittsburgh Penguins (Consol Energy Center)
Cheapest home game No.1 ticket via SeatGeek.com – $75
In another season, the Penguins would most likely be ranked much higher. With the team barely making the playoffs, fans in the Steel City seem to have soured a bit towards this team. With what could be an offseason of big changes following an early exit, a matchup with the Presidents Trophy winning Rangers is tough. Should the Pens go down 2-0 coming into Consol, an early Rangers goal might take the air right out of the building. That being said, if the Penguins surprise and make it a series, Consol will be plenty loud.
9. Vancouver Canucks (Rogers Arena)
Cheapest home game No.1 ticket via SeatGeek.com – $99
Unfortunately, one of the lasting moments for Rogers Arena was the sights after Vancouver lost in the finals in 2011. That being said, if that doesn't show you the passion of the Vancouver fanbase, then what does? Rogers is a great building that will be incredibly loud against a heated rival in the Calgary Flames. Speaking of which, the last three times those two clubs tangled in the playoffs, the winner went on to the Stanley Cup Finals
8. Calgary Flames (Scotiabank Saddledome)
Cheapest home game No. 1 ticket via SeatGeek.com – $209
If you had a chance to watch the Flames clinch the playoffs with a 3-1 win over the defending champion LA Kings, then you know exactly what to expect from the Saddledome in game three. With a young and exciting team, Flames fans are ecstatic to break the six-year playoff drought and will be rocking against a hated rival.
7. New York Rangers (Madison Square Garden)
Cheapest home game No.1 ticket via SeatGeek.com – $254
Once known as a building filled with far too many corporate seats, MSG has been rejuvenated following the renovations and last year's run to the finals. Ranger fans expect nothing short of a championship this season and will be an absolutely raucous bunch. The Blue Shirts will also have the benefit of home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs, which should make for some ear-splitting late-series games in the Big Apple.
6. New York Islanders (Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum)
Cheapest home game No.1 ticket via SeatGeek.com – $143
Normally the Islanders wouldn't be ranked this high, but with the Islanders moving to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn next season, fans on Long Island will be proudly behind their team during the last hurrah at Nassau Coliseum. With the glory days of the early 80′s in their minds, fans won't want to see this building close. That makes for what will be a deafening atmosphere on Long Island.
5. Minnesota Wild (Xcel Center)
Cheapest home game No.1 ticket via SeatGeek.com – $177
Wild fans have packed Xcel Center since the team returned to the NHL. Since then, it's been sellout after sellout in the "State of Hockey." Minnesotans are long-known for their hockey-rich traditions and following the departure of the North Stars, fans responded to the Wild's return with one of the best home atmospheres in the sport. With a resurgent second-half of the season that led to a playoff birth, Xcel Center will be primed to go wild with the home team.
4. Detroit Red Wings (Joe Louis Arena)
Cheapest home game No.1 ticket via SeatGeek.com – $53
"The Joe," with the second biggest seating capacity in the NHL, is one of the oldest buildings in hockey. The building is also steeped in rich tradition. The Red Wings have made the playoffs for the last 24 years. Fans expect postseason hockey and they absolutely eat it up. With knowledgeable, passionate fans, if the Wings are able to make it a series with the Lightning, expect the Joe to explode with every Red Wings goal.
3. Winnipeg Jets (MTS Centre)
Cheapest home game No.1 ticket via SeatGeek.com – $739
Tickets for the smallest building in the NHL are through the roof. Speaking of which, the roof might come off the building when the Jets score their first goal in the playoffs since the franchise departed in 1996. The MTS Centre may be small, but that adds to the sound volume. With the Winnipeg faithful absolutely elated to be watching hometown playoff hockey again, this will be one of the loudest buildings in the NHL this postseason.
2. Chicago Blackhawks (United Center)
Cheapest home game No.1 ticket via SeatGeek.com – $143
Aptly named the Madhouse on Madison, United Center, the United Center is one of the best buildings in all of sports. Since the resurgence of the Blackhawks, fans have been packing the building to cheer on the team. Wth their two recent cup runs, Blackhawks fans have become accustomed to playoff hockey and if Patrick Kane suits up in Game three, expect the crowd to be absolutely electric from the outset.
1. Montreal Canadiens (Bell Centre)
Cheapest home game No.1 ticket via SeatGeek.com – $126
Seeing a game at Bell Centre is something that should be on every sports fan's bucket list. The atmosphere is incredible, as the fans of Les Habitants live and die with every play. With a league-leading capacity of 21,287, Bell Centre can be deafening at times. When the Canadiens score and the crowd errupts into chants of "Allez Montreal" after their well-known high pitched goal horn, the electricity in the crowd is simply unrivaled. The atmosphere at Bell Centre gives the Canadiens the best home ice advantage in the playoffs this year.
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