Saturday, December 02, 2006

West Conference Scoring Leaders

As I noted yesterday in my post about Patrick Marleau being the Lady Byng leader, scoring is much higher in the East Conference this year than it is in the West Conference. So far there have been 6.18 goals per game in games involving east conference teams and 5.60 goals per game in games involving west conference teams. This is about 10% more scoring in the east conference. The fact the west conference is lower scoring was also true last season.

This does not mean that the east conference is better than the west conference. In fact, the west conference record in common games is 28 wins 27 losses (7 of those losses were regularion ties so BOTH conferences can falsely claim to be above .500 against each other). The record in common games is for all intents a draw. If there is any edge it is to the west conference because they are disadvantaged in travel and are matching the east conference. The west teams get less rest and practise time because they log many more miles over a season (their conference is spread over 4 time zones instead of the east conference which makes up part of the eastern timezone alone). Thus a west team must be slightly better than an east team to be their equal in the standings. However, its probably the most accurate picture to see both conferences as equals with different styles of play.

There is no easy explanation for this difference. It appears that due to chance more good offensive players are in the east and more good defensive players and goaltenders are in the west.

West conference players do not appear as prominantly in the scoring leaders because they play in a lower scoring setting. Nevertheless, those players who lead the west in scoring are having very good years and should be highlighted.

Here are the top 10 scorers in the west conference this season so far:

Top 10 Scorers In The West Conference (as of the conclusion of Dec 1st games)
Name Team Goals Assists Points Standing in League
Teemu SelanneAna11203111
Chris ProngerAna4242821
Patrick MarleauSJ13142723
Jarome IginlaCal13142724
Joe ThorntonSJ7202725
Joe SakicCol9172627
Alexander FrolovLA14112529
Petr SykoraEdm12132530
Steve SullivanNas7182534
Mike CammalleriLA10142438

It takes a list of 38 top scorers to include 10 west players (there are 28 east players on that list). This list includes 10 very good NHL players. They are all having very good seasons. Teemu Selanne is maintaining his exceptional play from last season leading the west conference in scoring. Chris Pronger is second while playing defence. That is an outstanding result so far.

It isn't true that the entire west conference is the same. This list includes 6 Pacific Division players, 3 Northwest Division players and only one Central Division player. Scoring varies from division to division, but it is much harder to try to establish that two divisions have roughly the same calibre of play. Nevertheless, it is clear that the Pacific Division is the highest scoring of the west divisions (it includes the highest scoring west team in Anaheim and the two west teams that allow the most goals in Los Angeles and Phoenix). When the scoring leaders are listed, the top scoring players in the west are usually lost, but they are worthy of note and are often better scorers than an east player with a couple more points who is in a higher scoring environment.

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