A pattern has developed in both conferences. In fact, the East and West mirror each other.
Both have a dominant division.
In the East it is the Atlantic.
New York leads the conference. Both Pennsylvania teams, Pittsburgh and Philly, are on fire, and New Jersey looks like a quality six-seed that could upset the Southeast Division leader.
In the West it is the Central.
Detroit has cooled off, but they’re Detroit. St. Louis is playing great hockey right now, lead the conference, and are built for a playoff run. Nashville and Chicago could make deep playoff runs.
Both conferences also have a garbage division.
In the East, it's the Southeast.
Florida will probably win that division by default. Tampa and Washington took big steps back. Winnipeg is young and has an awful travel schedule. Carolina is built for the future.
In the West, it is the Northwest.
Vancouver won this division by mid-season. Minnesota started hot, but have struggled in the second half. Edmonton showed some promise a couple months ago. Colorado and Calgary are on the bubble, but both could miss the playoffs.
Finally, Washington and San Jose are mirror teams.
Both are in non-traditional markets, but have built up large fan-bases.
Both have an underachieving superstar (Marleau/Ovechkin).
Both were supposed to win their division.
Both could miss the playoffs.
In the end, say what you want about the NHL’s parity—I love it.
Despite having three-point games and close division races, the results aren’t random.
In fact, they are eerily similar in both conferences.