Here is an interesting stat to start this post off -
If the playoffs were to start today, and it was based solely on total points and not divided by conference, the West would have ten teams in the playoffs, and the East, only six. Out of those six teams, the Metropolitan division would only send two teams. I bet you could take a wild guess as to who those two teams would be - that’s right, Pittsburgh and Washington.
What is my point – the Eastern conference is struggling, and the West is still the powerhouse of the league. The teams who are usually part of the mix, or at least were in the last couple of seasons, are nowhere to be seen in the Eastern conference. Three teams that jump right out to me; the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and the Ottawa Senators. Three teams that everyone thought would be competitive to say the least. They currently sit ninth (NYR), eleventh (OTT), and fourteenth (NYI), in the Eastern conference.
A new kicker due to realignment, it doesn’t exactly matter where you place in the conference as a whole. Before this year, only three spots were guaranteed – each team who won their division. This year, six spots are guaranteed – top three from each division. So in previous years there were five spots to fight over in the conference, but that has now been dwindled down to two slots to fill. So not only is conference play still important, but divisional play is more important than ever before.
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