Congrats to Pittsburgh for winning what could possibly be the worst conference of all-time. As the only really good team over there, they should have won it easily (and look they did).
With no more Eastern Conference games to be played we can go ahead and make it official: West >> East this season. There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that the Western Conference is the better conference.
With the schedule being so weighted it's really difficult to tell based on records alone. I mean the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds were 44-18-2 this season and no reasonable fan could make a case that they were better than any NHL team (well maybe the Kings).
Since it's nearly impossible to follow a team of the other conference, especially living on either coast, it's difficult to watch enough of the other conference to really get a sense of how good/bad the other conference is. Well after watching the Eastern Conference throughout the playoffs let's get this straight... they are bad.
While watching the Eastern Conference games, I had trouble finding many teams that could compete with any of the Western Conference playoff teams (outside Pittsburgh). The Rangers may have been able to win a west series, maybe against the Predators or Wild, but really that's about it. I think the biggest indictment of the Eastern Conference is that the Bruins took the East's #1 seed, Montréal, to a game 7. Can you imagine the Bruins lasting more than 5 against any Western Conference team this season?
I'm not the kind of guy who only goes off of eyeball judgment, I need some kind of statistics to back up my point. So here it is:
East record vs West: 67-67-16
West vs East: 83-53-14.
Yes the East is technically .500 against the West, don't forget that .500 is crappy in todays NHL. A .500 record in the NHL this season would have placed a team above: NYI, Atlanta, TB Lightning, Columbus BJ's, St. Louis Blues and the LA Kings. Look at those teams, not good.
Well the East is bottom heavy so let's look at how bad the playoff teams did against the West, and vice-versa.
East Playoff teams vs West: 40-31-9
West Playoff teams vs East: 47-26-7
Much more respectable but that record looks eerily similar to the Nashville Predators record (41-32-9). While the West's record vs the East most closely resembles the Penguins record (47-27-8). that's right, the Eastern conference playoff teams combined record would be good enough for an 8 seed out west and the Western conference playoff teams combined record would net a 2-seed in the East.
Looking at that stat there should be no doubt that the West is a much better conference this season, and it's not even close. Only Pittsburgh would really stand a chance in the West this season.