by PuckStopsHere on 02/04/14 at 01:26 AM ET
I have written many times about how the West Conference has been better that the East Conference for the last several years. In November, things were so bad that the only east team that could have made playoffs if they were in the west was the Boston Bruins. Things have changed to narrow the difference between the divisions. 63 points is a playoff berth in the west and 62 in the east.
If we look at overall records in inter-division play, the West Conference is leading. The East has a 131-169 record with 39 regulation tie points. This is a much closer record than earlier in the season.
This has happened because travel is harder for the West Conference teams. Their conference is spread over three time zones (Pacific, Mountain and Central). The East Conference is fully confined to the Eastern Time Zone.
Travel wears on a team over time. They have less time to practice, less time to rest, less time to rehab injuries. They have less time for anything. In a schedule like we have this year those travel differences are exacerbated. There are more inter-conference games than at any time in recent memory. This increased travel pushes everyone. It pushes the West Conference harder. This has allowed the East Conference to make some gains against the West Conference. These gains are not real. They are an effect of travel.
When the season began, the West Conference was dominant over the East Conference. As the season passed and travel became more of an issue, the East Conference has cut into the lead. Nevertheless, the West Conference is the better one. The fact things appear to be closer is a mirage due to travel inequities.
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