by PuckStopsHere on 03/07/13 at 01:22 AM ET
For essentially the entire time it has existed, the Southeast Division has been the worst division in hockey. Never have more than two teams in this division been good enough to make the playoffs in the same season. I have written about this weak division many times (for example last year). This year is no different.
Four of the five worst teams in the East Conference right now are Southeast Division teams. Florida and Washington are the last two teams in the conference. Buffalo (from the Northeast Division) is third from last. Then comes Southeast members Tampa Bay and Winnipeg. In all likelihood only one team from the Southeast will make playoffs this year. At this point that team is Carolina but it is reasonable to wonder if Carolina can keep up their start. Star goalie Cam Ward is out for the remainder of the season with a leg injury. This leaves Dan Ellis and Justin Peters to man the Hurricanes nets and it is reasonable to wonder if either will succeed.
At this point in the season the Southeast teams have 49 wins and 61 losses. They have nine regulation tie points.
The ineptitude of the Southeast Division is significant given that it exists in this shortened season where divisional play is increased as there is no inter-conference play. Even playing an increased percentage of games against one another (and a Southeast team must win in every intra-divisional Southeast game) this division is clearly the weakest.
What is interesting is despite its failures, the Southeast Division has three of the current top scorers in the league in Martin St Louis, Steve Stamkos and Eric Staal. It is not uncommon for a group of poor teams that play amongst themselves to be high scoring. In fact there is a strong correlation between the quality of play and low scoring hockey (for example the ECHL is higher scoring than the AHL, which is higher scoring than the NHL). It is harder to play good defence than it is to score as many goals are scored due to mistakes made by the opposition. Thus is it reasonable to be a bit skeptical of the scoring numbers produced by Southeast Division players as they face weaker competition.
The Southeast Division has been consistently poor since its inception. This season is no different. In fact it might be even worse this year than it has been in the recent past.
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