Tight Playoff Races Illustrate Parity in New NHL
Parity seems to be a byproduct of the new NHL. Nine of the 15 teams in the Eastern Conference are in first place or within five points of it. Only two teams in the East are more than 10 points out of first.
The division leaders in the Western Conference -- Detroit, Minnesota and Dallas -- have larger leads than their Eastern counterparts, but parity still figures in a tight playoff race. Take the runaway Red Wings and Pacific-leading Stars out of the equation, and the next 10 teams in the Western Conference standings are separated by just 10 points. Those 10 clubs are in pursuit of the West’s final six postseason berths.
Going into Wednesday night’s action, Vancouver and Calgary hold down the West’s final two playoff spots with 68 points. The next four clubs in the chase -- Phoenix, St. Louis, Colorado and Columbus -- are within five points of the Canucks and Flames.
Although parity is a key theme of the playoff push down the stretch, you won’t find it between the conferences. The West has a significant edge over the East in 2007-08.
East vs. West, 2007-08
Conference. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Record. . . . . . . . Points
Eastern Conference (vs. West). . . . . . . .52-55-12. . . . . . 116 points
Western Conference (vs. East). . . . . . . .67-40-12. . . . . . 146 points
The Avalanche may be seeded 11th in the West with a little less than six weeks remaining in the regular season, but they top all Western clubs with a 7-1-0 record and 14 points against the East. The Ducks are 6-2-0 and the Red Wings are 6-2-1 facing Eastern teams this season, and that may not bode well for the East’s representative in the Stanley Cup finals.
Until then, however, parity rules as clubs vie to play postseason hockey.