In an effort to avoid the million things that I’m supposed to be doing, I decided to play around with the standings differential between the Eastern and Western Conferences. We’ve long maintained that the Wings would’ve been even more dominant if they’d been able to cakewalk through the East for all these years. These are the numbers that I came up with for so far this season (through Sunday):
The 15 Western Conference teams have a total of 730 points. The 15 teams in the East? Merely 683. I was so surprised by the differential that I double checked my addition. The current playoff teams in the West have a total of 438 points, while the Eastern teams only have 409. The eighth place team in the West has 51 points, but the eighth place team in the East has 45. The Wings’ 48 points would place them 6th in the Eastern conference, because they have a game in hand on the Senators who also have 48 points.
I came up with two possible explanations for the difference in numbers: 1. The teams in the West have played more overtime “three-point” games or 2. The Western Conference teams have been winning more of their games against the East.
The teams in the West have accumulated a total of 78 overtime losses, 61 of which have come against in-conference opponents. On the other hand Eastern teams have 81 overtime losses, with 65 of them coming against other teams in the East. Teams in the Eastern Conference have actually played more three-point games than teams in the West have.
Looking at the Western Conference’s cumulative record against the East gives pretty good support to explanation #2. The West is 84-44-17 in games against Eastern teams. The East is only 61-68-16. They’re not even .500 against the West this season. In fact, only three Western Conference teams are below .500 against teams from the East. Those three teams are St. Louis, Edmonton, and Anaheim, who currently occupy three of the bottom four spots in the West. There are only six Eastern Conference teams who have winning records against the West: Pittsburgh, Boston, Buffalo, Atlanta, Washington, and Florida. Not surprisingly, that group of teams accounts for positions 2-5 in the standings, with only Atlanta and Florida being the outliers.
That just goes to show you that when we call it the Leastern Conference, we really mean it. Must be nice, eh?