East or West?

According to NHL.com, the Western Conference has been beating up on the East in inter-conference play, but are they really the better conference? As it stands now, the top four teams in the league are the Pittsburgh Penguins (40), Washington Capitals (39), Montreal Canadiens (38), and the Philadelphia Flyers (38), all teams from the East. They are followed by the Red Wings (37) and Stars (34), the only two West teams in the top ten. The top ten is rounded out by Boston (33), Tampa Bay (33), Atlanta (33), and the New York Rangers (33). Based on the top ten, the Eastern Conference is actually more dominating than the West. The next twelve places, however, all belong to the Western Conference. Phoenix (32), Chicago (32), Vancouver (31), Columbus (31), Anaheim (31), Los Angeles (30), San Jose (30), St. Louis (30), Nashville (30), Colorado (30), Minnesota (26), and Calgary (26) make up places 11-22. That means that 7 of the bottom 8 teams in the league are also in the Eastern Conference. Those teams are Buffalo (26), Ottawa (26), Carolina (25), Edmonton (25), Florida (24), Toronto (24), New Jersey (18), and the New York Islanders (15). As you can see, aside from the bottom few teams, the standings are all very close and any off game can cause a team to fall dramatically in the standings. The play of every team in the league reflects this parity as almost every game has been played with playoff-like intensity. Two points, specifically given before overtime, may be more valuable than ever before because of teams abilities to pick up that extra point and teams are rewarding fans with exceptional, exciting play. With still so long to go it will be interesting to see how the standings will shift as the season progresses. Will the East continue to dominate the top of the standings, or will more teams from the West begin to take over? It seems as if the West is more competitive from top to bottom while the East has a large disparity over their top teams and their bottom teams (Edmonton can at least play with a team like the Wings, while the Islanders stand no shot against teams like the Penguins Caps and Flyers). I guess we will find out more as the months go by, for now, sit back and enjoy the ride.

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