Last season, there was a great discrepancy in talent between the NHL’s Western Conference and the Eastern Conference. Well, if not in terms of talent, definitely in terms of overall team strength. Aside from the Boston Bruins, and to an extent the Pittsburgh Penguins, the strength in the East was no match for the Western powerhouses like Los Angeles, Anaheim, Chicago, St. Louis, San Jose and the unexpected surge of the Colorado Avalanche.
In terms of Inter-conference play, the results were dramatically skewed in favor of the West. In fact, only 1 team had a sub-.500 record against the East, and that surprisingly was the playoff-bound Dallas Stars. In the 448 games between the conferences, the West won 246 and earned a total of 544 points (including 52 “loser points”). The East won 202 games and totaled 457 points (with 53 loser points). This means the West’s winning % was .601 while their % of total points awarded was .543 (when you include the extra points awarded for OT losses) The Easts winning percentage was was .457.
So, can we expect anything different this season, or will the West continue to feast on the East? Well, as skewed as the season-ending numbers were, they were even more one-sided than they were at mid-season, where the West has a .581 winning %.
Lets take a look at the big-name players who switched conferences and the effect they might have on their teams and the league balance as a whole.