Much has been made of the disparity between the Eastern and Western Conference this season, as the East has a combined record of 74-95-27 against Western counterparts. That difference is further amplified when comparing the meager Metropolitan Division with the Central grouping.
The Winnipeg Jets currently claim ownership to the cellar position in the Central and are 10 points out of a playoff spot. However, if the newly realigned club played in the Metropolitan Division it would only be two points out of a playoff spot. The Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators also sit on the outside of the Western Conference playoff race, but would both have enough points to qualify for a spot if they played in the Metropolitan Division.
The Pacific Division is even more difficult than the Central given that the grouping has five clubs with 40 points or more, which would result in playoff positions for all five teams if they played in either division in the Eastern Conference. Even the Calgary Flames would still be in the hunt for the playoffs if they played in the Metropolitan.
Ultimately, this means some pretty good teams are probably going to miss out on the playoffs in the West. Here's a look at the divisional standings in the NHL entering Monday night:
|Tampa Bay Lightning||33||19-11-3||41|
|Detroit Red Wings *||35||15-11-9||39|
|Toronto Maple Leafs *||34||17-14-3||37|
|New York Rangers||34||16-17-1||33|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||33||14-15-4||32|
|New Jersey Devils||34||13-15-6||32|
|New York Islanders||34||9-19-6||24|
|St. Louis Blues||31||22-6-3||47|
|Minnesota Wild *||35||19-11-5||43|
|Los Angeles Kings||34||22-8-4||48|
|San Jose Sharks||33||20-7-6||46|
|Vancouver Canucks *||35||20-10-5||45|
Top three teams in each division make the playoffs.
* denotes wild card playoff position.