For the last three seasons, an Eastern Conference team has won the Stanley Cup. Ever since the 2000 Stanley Cup, west teams and east teams have each won nine Stanley Cups. There was no Stanley Cup Final in 2005 because of the season long lockout.
It is quite possible another team from the east wins the Stanley Cup this season. If the season ended today, the match ups in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Eastern Conference would be the Pittsburgh Penguins (25-16-6, 56 points) and the Tampa Bay Lightning (36-9-2, 74 points), the Boston Bruins (26-15-7, 57 points) and the Toronto Maple Leafs (28-15-2, 58 points), the Montreal Canadiens (26-7-5, 57 points) vs the Columbus Blue Jackets (28-15-3, 59 points), and the New York Islanders (26-15-4, 56 points) vs Washington Capitals (27-14-5, 59 points).
The match ups in the Western Conference would be the Minnesota Wild (23-20-3, 49 points) and the Calgary Flames (30-13-4, 64 points), the Vegas Golden Knights (28-17-4, 60 points) and the San Jose Sharks (28-13-7, 63 points), the Dallas Stars (23-20-4, 50 points) vs the Winnipeg Jets (30-14-2, 62 points), and the Colorado Avalanche (21-17-8, 50 points) vs the Nashville Predators (28-16-4, 60 points).
The teams that would have to play on the road in the first-round in the east are much better than the teams that would have to go on the road in the west. Three of the road teams in the west that would have to go on the road has 50 points or fewer. All of the teams that would have to go on the road in the east would have at least 56 points or higher.
The closest team to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the east is the Buffalo Sabres and they are four points behind. Buffalo got off to a hot start and they have skidded recently. Speaking of skids, the Anaheim Ducks having lost 12 games in a row.
Anaheim is some way some how only two points back of the Minnesota Wild for the eighth spot in the west. This is one of the reasons why the west is not that good. The Edmonton Oilers and the Vancouver Canucks also have 47 points.
The St. Louis Blues (45 points), the Arizona Coyotes (43 points), the Chicago Blackhawks (41 points), and the Los Angeles Kings (40 points) can all realistically make the playoffs this season. St. Louis, Chicago, and Los Angeles all fired their coaches at some point this season. The west isn’t strong at all. If these teams were in the east, it would be better luck next season.
If Anaheim was in the east, they would be nine points out of a playoff spot. The Carolina Hurricanes (49 points) would be tied for the eighth spot if they were in the west. The New York Rangers (45 points) would be only four points back of a playoff spot.
The Buffalo Sabres have been better than three playoff teams in the west this season and they wouldn’t even be in the playoffs in the east right now.
Other than the New York Islanders and the Montreal Canadiens, the other six current east teams that would be in the playoffs right now has a legitimate chance to win it all.
The Dallas Stars, the Colorado Avalanche, the Minnesota Wild, and the Vegas Golden Knights don’t have much of a chance to win the west. I understand that Vegas won the west last season but they may very well not get out of the first-round this season.
The San Jose Sharks or the Calgary Flames have a good chance to win the west, but the Winnipeg Jets or the Nashville Predators will be the ones that represent the west in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2019.
The truth of the matter is, the Eastern Conference is better than the Western Conference. It is very possible an Eastern Conference team wins the Stanley Cup again this season and possibly the next few years.
– Glenn Kaplan, WTF Sports Intern