Monday, January 4, 2010

Go East, Young Men...

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?

1 comment:

  1. I had to re-read this a couple of times to fully soak in the disparity between the Eastern & Western Conferences. I knew that the Western teams were more dominant (which a lot of people blame the Wings for raising the bar, esp. those in the Central Division), but I had no idea just by how much. And frankly, it kind of depresses me to realize that we'd be clearly in playoff position by now if we were in the East. I know things are played differently there. They seem to build teams more around a couple of good players and many of them are weak in defensive depth.

    All of this makes me very very wary of the '08-09 Penguins team comparisons to the '09-10 Wings. At this time last year, the Pens were a lowly 12th?? in their conference until they caught fire in the spring with the coaching change. I just can't see the Wings managing to climb the standings in the same way here in the West, even if we do go on a crazy winning streak when our injured players return. However, I've heard that the most of the Western Conference teams have played the majority of their games against the East by now, so "hopefully" things will slow down in the West. And momentum will shift post-Olympics, so this whole comment may be a moot point...

    Either way, I'm just plain sick of seeing 3- point games being given out in the West constantly (then again, we've had quite a few, and it's saved our asses too), and the teams we need to lose keep on winning. This is why this west coast trip is so freakin' important. If we can win, and win in REGULATION, against Anaheim, LA & SJ (which we've proved that we CAN do this season), it'll hopefully help us gain some ground.