The toughest division

Jean Lefebvre
July 24 2009 11:03AM

champion

Earlier this week, in the course of discussing a different topic, the conversation drifted to the relative mediocrity of the Northwest Division. It wasn’t so long ago that the Northwest was being touted as the best in the National Hockey League, and if that claim was debatable then, it would be preposterous now.

It all depends on how frame the argument, of course, but it seemed a stretch to call the Calgary-Colorado-Edmonton-Minnesota-Vancouver grouping the league’s best even a couple of years ago when the theory was in vogue. Some proponents were careful to use the phrase “most competitive from top to bottom,” which is much more accurate. Two seasons ago, for instance, the first-to-worst spread in the Northwest was a mere 10 points and no team in that division finished more than three points out of the Western Conference’s top eight.

The other divisions, on the other hand, feature much more disparity between the rich and the poor. The Northwest was decidedly middle class as evidenced by the fact that no winner of the division has won the Cup since 2001 (only the Northeast Division has gone longer without a championship) and that the Northwest winner has been slotted in the No. 3 playoff seed (i.e. the lowest of all division champs) for the past six seasons.

In 2008-09, several former weak sisters in other divisions muscled up and the Northwest’s reputation was further diminished. Just check out the winning percentages of each division against the rest of the West — Central vs. Pacific/Northwest (.550); Pacific vs. Central/Northwest (.485); Northwest vs. Central/Pacific (.465).

The Flames were the only Northwest team to post a true winning record against either of the other two divisions (they were 11-9 against both the Pacific and the Central) while the first-place Canucks managed to play .500 inter-division/intra-conference hockey (20-20).

So, with that sparkling record against the conference’s other two divisions, with four teams in the playoffs (and the fifth only three points out) and with two representatives in the Conference final, can there be any doubt the Central is the best/toughest division in the West?

In a recent comment, Wanye Gretz presents the case for the Atlantic Division, which is the East’s version of the Central in regards to having placed four teams in the 2009 playoffs. As WG notes, the most notable shortcoming of the Atlantic is the absolute awfulness of the last-place Islanders, who are a far, far worse team than the Nashville Predators, who ere the Central Division cellar-dwellers.

On the other hand, an Atlantic team beat a Central team for the Stanley Cup and Northwest clubs had a 17-13 advantage in head-to-head play during the regular season (only the Flyers had a losing record against the Central while only the Red Wings had a winning record against the Atlantic).

All that said, while recognizing that the Atlantic had the edge in some key categories this past season, the vote here is that based on present rosters, the Central is presently the best division in the NHL. What say you?

32a247e515fecc03210581093e1a5ee8
Lefebvre is in that awkward stage of hockey following -- old enough to fondly remember the Cleveland Barons and too set in his ways to accept charity points and games where there's a winner but apparently no loser. As a long-time ink-stained wretch, he's also a firm believer in the old Bobby Knight quote about journalists: "All of us learn to write in second grade, but most of us go on to better things."
Avatar
#51 oilers123
July 24 2009, 03:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Yeah goat talk is all you losers know. Shut up already and discuss the article. The Northwest Division has always been tight but never the best.

Avatar
#52 Ender the Dragon
July 24 2009, 03:41PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@ Lefebvre:

Jean,

Must feel good, huh? Spend your day writing a logical, well-thought-out article, and 50 comments in we've yet to hear one word about a single thing you've said. That's appreciation Nation-style.

In our defense, leaks aside that's one hell of a good-lookin' goat.

Avatar
#53 Archaeologuy
July 24 2009, 03:57PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@ oilers123:

You are more than welcome to ignore everything that the commenters have brought up and make a comment regarding the Article itself without telling everyone to shut up.

Avatar
#54 Lefebvre
July 24 2009, 04:07PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Ender the Dragon wrote:

@ Lefebvre: Jean, Must feel good, huh? Spend your day writing a logical, well-thought-out article, and 50 comments in we’ve yet to hear one word about a single thing you’ve said. That’s appreciation Nation-style. In our defense, leaks aside that’s one hell of a good-lookin’ goat.

I'm very sorry, but I'm too busy trying to reach Pat Riggin for comment about 4-H contests to reply to this.

Avatar
#55 Librarian Mike
July 24 2009, 04:11PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@ Lefebvre:

Wait. Are you saying Pat Riggin was a real person?

Avatar
#56 Samwise
July 24 2009, 05:15PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

And people say we are way too serious here in ON discussing hockey in the middle of the summer...

I can just imagine the first game of the season when the lights go down and they start blasting the music to pump up the crowd as they show the video montage to the sound of 'Dueling Banjos'

Avatar
#57 oilers123
July 24 2009, 05:39PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

The divisions should tighten up now that the Habs leafs and ottawa have bad teams. The Northwest doesn't really have any teams that score a lot. Chicago is getting better so the Wings at least have some comp.

Avatar
#58 RobInALab
July 24 2009, 10:43PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Samwise wrote:

…I can just imagine the first game of the season when the lights go down and they start blasting the music to pump up the crowd as they show the video montage to the sound of ‘Dueling Banjos’

No kidding... and don't tell me you won't laugh your arse off the next time they start playing Cotton-eye Joe at the arena.

Avatar
#59 ronaldo
July 24 2009, 10:52PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@ oilers123 I think you're right. We'll see even tighter races this year because...I can't do. Seriously, you have a problem with the goat. Dude, that picture should be hanging in a museum and Wayne should get some sort of heroes metal for bettering our lives by posting it. I mean come on, look at it, it's fricken hillareous every time. *sigh*

Avatar
#60 baai
July 25 2009, 01:32AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

is that goat peeing a little?

Avatar
#61 Wanye Gretz
July 25 2009, 03:20PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

I still feel bad for Lefebvre getting this hilarious response to an excellent article.

*goes back outside to enjoy the one day of actual summer*

Comments are closed for this article.