Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Explaining disparity between East and West points

Posted by: Michael Russo under On the road, Wild practice Updated: April 3, 2010 - 1:59 PM

Saturday afternoon update: Greetings from Vancouver. Chuck Kobasew and Marty Havlat are on the flight, which leaves in five minutes. Wade Dubielewicz is on his way up and Anton Khudobin down.

 

Good morning. I've got an early flight to Vancouver today. I won't be at this morning's very optional practice, so I'll update the blog this afternoon with any news. The only thing I anticipate right now is a potential flip of backup goalies and Wade Dubielewicz coming on the road. That was the indication given to the scribes down in Houston last night.

I'm assuming Martin Havlat (ill) will be on the trip, but I'll confirm to you after I land.

Since I wrote the other day that all the Wild will get for finishing 13th in the West is the 10th pick in June's Entry Draft because Nos. 9-15 in the East had fewer points in the standings, I've gotten a lot of emails asking to explain how it's possible for such a disparity between the two conferences. 

Incidentally, if the season ended today, the Wild would have the 9th pick now.

I threw your question at Wild director of hockey operations Chris Snow, who's good at analyzing such puzzles. Snow helped out a great deal, and here's the reason:

1. West v. East

West is 155-85-28 vs East. This means the West has taken 338 points in meetings between East and West, the East just 263. So, the West essentially 'took' 75 points (338-263) in those common games out of the East standings and put them into the West standings.

2. OT games in conference

There have been 109 OT games in East v. East games compared to 98 in West v. West games. That means 11 additional points in East vs. East games that go into the East standings.

3. Combine these factors.

75 "more points gained in the West in interconference games" - 11 "more points gained in East v. East games than West v. West" = 64 more points residing in West.

If you add up all points gained West teams the total is 1332. If you add up all point totals for East teams the number is 1266. Difference is 66 more points in the West.

Now, this is two points off for some reason, so maybe the NHL needs to do an audit of its standings (ha). But this definitely explains why it's so much harder for a team like the Wild to make the playoffs in the West as compared to if it was in the East -- so thank you Chris Snow.

By the way, the Wild went 10-4-4 against the East this year, so Minnesota didn't "help" itself with its East success.

Talk to you from Vancouver. 

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