NHL Conference Parity or Lack Thereof

PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 09: Ville Leino #22 of the Philadelphia Flyers checks Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks with Scott Hartnell #19 of the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Six of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Wachovia Center on June 9, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

 

Since the lockout, the Western conference has outscored the Eastern conference in head-to-head games every single season.  it doesn't really matter how we slice the data - all games, even-strength only, tied games only - the Western conference is significantly better than the East:

 

 

FEN% GOAL% EV FEN% EV GOAL%
ALL 51.25 51.64 51.02 51.50
TIED 51.31 51.82 51.09 52.34
05-06 to 08-09 51.79 50.36 51.77 51.23
09-10 to 10-11 50.69 53.95 50.23 53.88

 

Overall, the Western conference is roughly a 53% or 54% favorite to win games against the East.  Now, the West seems to have regressed slightly in the last two seasons, at least in terms of puck possession.  But they've also had significantly better goaltending than the East:

 

SH%F SH%A PDO EVSH%F EVSH%A EVPDO
ALL 6.82 6.71 1001 6.11 6.00 1001
TIED 6.42 6.29 1001 5.69 5.41 1003
05-06 to 08-09 6.44 6.81 996 5.74 5.87 999
09-10 to 10-11 6.39 5.60 1008 5.63 4.86 1008

 

In terms of which teams have been very good in inter-conference play, it's pretty obvious when we look at shots and goals with the score tied:

 

Fen% Goal% EV Fen% EV Goal%
Det 56.5 Det 56.7 Det 56.6 NJ 55.8
SJ 53.9 NJ 54.9 SJ 53.2 Det 55.2
NJ 52.3 SJ 54.8 Chi 53.1 SJ 54.9

 

Detroit, New Jersey, San Jose and Chicago have all been very good for at least four of the last six years, so it's not surprising that they'd be at the top of the list.

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