Which conference is dominant?

I’ve noticed that since the start of the season if a team is struggling, commentators in the media and on the forums remark that X team needs to be better in a dominant Y conference. If it’s Boston struggling, the line goes: “The Bruins can’t afford to leave point on the ice in the powerhouse Eastern Conference”. If the team in doubt is Vancouver we’re told: “The Canucks will need to play hard to climb the ranks, especially with how strong the West is this year”.

So the question is this: Which conference is more dominant this year?

Let’s take a quick look at the team point totals from last season (2010-2011):

East: 1366 pts total
Atlantic Division: 459 pts total
Northeast Division: 454 pts total
Southeast Division: 453 pts total

West: 1391 pts total
Central Division: 468 pts total
Northwest Division: 427 pts total
Pacific Division: 496 pts total

Here we can see a slight edge to the West; however, the West also had the lowest point totals for any single division (Northwest). Now let’s look at the totals thus far this year:

East: 154 pts total (140 GP)

Atlantic Division: 53 pts total (47 GP)
Northeast Division: 49 pts total (47 GP)
Southeast Division: 52 pts total (46 PG)

West: 155 pts total (139 GP)

Central Division: 44 pts total (46 GP)
Northwest Division: 53 pts total (48 GP)
Pacific Division: 58 pts total (45 PG)

So far this year the West has a slight edge over the East, but the season is not over and not all teams have played the same amount of games. Let’s look at it another way: team points earned per game.

Starting with last season, each division played a total of 410 games, and each conference 1230. Their points earned per game (PEPG) Looks like this:

East: 2010-2011 PEPG: 1.111| 2011-2012 PEPG: 1.100
Atlantic Division: 2010-2011 PEPG: 1.120| 2011-2012 PEPG: 1.128
Northeast Division: 2010-2011 PEPG: 1.107| 2011-2012 PEPG: 1.043
Southeast Division: 2010-2011 PEPG: 1.105| 2011-2012 PEPG: 1.130

West: 2010-2011 PEPG: 1.131| 2011-2012 PEPG: 1.115

Central Division: 2010-2011 PEPG: 1.141| 2011-2012 PEPG: 0.956
Northwest Division: 2010-2011 PEPG: 1.041| 2011-2012 PEPG: 1.104
Pacific Division: 2010-2011 PEPG: 1.210| 2011-2012 PEPG: 1.289

It seems from these numbers that the West was better last year, and on average earned .02 more point per game played. Though much is yet to happen this year, the West is again in the lead, earning an extra 0.015 points per game, slightly less than their lead last season. Again, the West also has the best (Pacific) and worst (Central) divisions overall.

As far as heads up match-ups go, so far this year it’s close to parity, with the East winning a total of 19 games against western opponents and the West winning 20 against eastern opponents. Last year, the West won the heads up battle between conferences by a score of 142 wins to 128 – a significant difference.

By these number I’d say that the West won last year: they earned more points per game, and more importantly, won more games against their eastern opponents (perhaps indicating more difficulty in winning within their own conference). This year it is very close. The West still garners slightly more points per game, but the match-ups between conferences have been even. Interestingly, the West seems better if you go by the stats presented here, but an eastern team won the cup. Over the last 10 season, each conference has won 5 cups a piece.

Discuss: Which do you believe to be the stronger conference and why? What could re-arranging the divisions do to change this dynamic? What division do you predict will be most dominant this season?

Thanks for reading (if you got this far).


9 Responses to Which conference is dominant?

  1. senators_choke says:

    Difficult to say which conference is more "dominant". There haven't been enough games to draw statistically meaningful conclusions.

    Best game by the Leafs thus far. Beating the very skilled Penguins is no picnic.

    Dion Phaneuf has been outstanding. Are you people trying to tell me he was playing like this last year?!?!  To those with keen eye for the game, you should see the difference EASY.

    How about that Connolly. Clearly when he's healthy, he's a player. The only question is if he can stay injury free.

  2. reinjosh says:

    Considering the Penguins were currently the best team in the league with the best powerplay in the league and we beat both? It's was a great game for the Leafs 

    No this is a new Dion. This is the "I'm going to dominate every facet of the game and destroy people at will" Dion. Phaneuf was great last year and was becoming his old dominating offensive self with the new defensive game. This year, he's taken it all, added it together (if he hadn't already last year), and upped every aspect of his game. He's being a leader and he's being a player. He's showing quite well that he deserves the captaincy right now. 
    I always said Connolly was a great player. Dude has serious talent and a huge passing ability. His biggest problem has always been injuries. I'm not really all that concerned anymore though. We have Lupul with Kessel and center depth we haven't had before, so if Connolly goes down, its not the end of the world. 
  3. reinjosh says:

    I must say I was impressed last night with Letang. I always thought he was just a pure offensive dman that was lucky to have Crosby and Malkin to pass too but he's much more than that. I was impressed by his play.

    Also, Phaneuf is a beast. Just…killing it. 
  4. JoelLeafs says:

    Dion really is dominating. It's exciting to watch. How many leafs do you think will make it to the all-star game this year?… I know, it's early, but Kessel is presently a lock, Phaneuf seems to be as well. Before the injury one could make a case for Reimer, although the Vokouns, Lethonens, and Rinne's of the League would make it a stretch.

    Pretty exciting start. Those first games by Gus were so critical. I figured if they drop two or three game in a row due to poor work in net, they may have experienced a complete loss of confidence and a possible slide (ala the 8 game skids from the past two season around this time); but, as a team, they powered through and are presently one of the hottest teams in the League.

    Someone needs to submit a Leafs article and get some discussion going…

  5. 93killer93 says:

    Funny tweet by Steve_Dangle.  Kessel has three game winning goals, bruins only have three wins. Thank You Kessel. 

  6. mapleleafsfan says:

    Well it's a little too early to say anything but our preseason predictions are looking pretty bad… Fairly sure none of us had dallas in a playoff spot, let alone first in the west.. Surely they don't stay there for long.. Edmonton is surprising big time but I don't expect it to last forever. Chicago is also doing better than I thought they would. I think I overrated buffalo. I think a few people on here were right when they said their additions didn't really make them that much better. 

    I still think Washington will finish first in the east, Ottawa will drop back down to the bottom, Boston HAS to turn it around some point. I think Colorado had their little run but they're gonna start slowing down (kinda started already).. I can't really believe how bad Colombus has been, 39 goals against in 11 games, ouch.. 
    Still don't know what to think of the leafs… I just can't let myself get excited because I won't be able to stand another brutal streak where we fall out of contention again. Regardless it's nice to watch the team win this early in the season. 
    Anyone else wanna change their predictions?
  7. JoelLeafs says:

    I wouldn't go as far as saying we can draw anything from the season so far. most teams have played around 15% of their games and plenty of points have been earned. 

    yes, you're right that we can't make solid predictions of the playoff picture yet, but we can get an idea of what teams are going to be fighting near the end. I think Boston is a great example: no one doubts they are a solid team all around. I think the vast majority of hockey fans would still predict they make it to the playoffs, but the number of points they've let slip by will make it tough for them near the end of the season. 
    Perhaps the best take away is not so much how many teams have earned points, but rather to converse: the points teams have not earned. If the leafs and avs turn around and play around .500 the rest of the season, they could possibly make the playoffs still, simply because they took advantage of some slow starts and got points early. 
    Edmonton sure is interesting to watch. 
    And I hear you about the leafs, it's hard to for myself not to get too high on them, but they are playing well, and getting some bounces (how many games last year did they out-shoot and out-play opponents only to lose because of a bad bounce or a weak goal?).
  8. TheLeafNation91 says:

    Well, that Greening goal was annoying.

    Leafs cannot lose games they need to win.

  9. TheOnlyIslesFan says:

    The answer is the Western conference…you need to have a season just shy of 100 pts just to make the playoffs historically, last year the Blackhawks had to secure Point #97 on the last day of the season to make it – in the Eastern Conference the magic number is usually 90-92 points.

    If by more wide open you mean better than it's the Eastern for sure as the only teams in the East I think are guaranteed to even make the playoffs might be Washington and Pittsburgh, the rest of the conference is blown wide open and the seeds between 6th and 11th can be blown wide open.
    In the Western side of things like I said before 95 pts isn't getting you into the playoffs, not even a sniff and thank GOD Bettman's system isn't based on points because how fair would it be for say the 8th Seeded Sabres who had 93 points to get the higher pick then the Dallas Stars who missed the playoffs with 2 more points?
    Anyway I think I'm drunk and rambling.
    Western Conference and just because it is.

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