Ah, the western conference. Full of criminally underrated players (or so the fans of these teams think, considering there is an obvious eastern slant to media coverage in the NHL...) The style of play in the west is widely considered to be much more of a physical game than the eastern conference is.
Now that we're over a week into the season, I thought it'd be good to check in on the league as a whole and espouse on the surprises, disappointments, and the "well of course they did" moments so far. We close this early look with the western conference today.
WESTERN CONFERENCE SURPRISES
The (nearly) worst to first story of the Colorado Avalanche was a big surprise this early in the season. Most pundits picked Colorado to place near or at the bottom of the whole western conference. To go undefeated for the first six of their games was not something most people saw coming, me included.
This was supposedly going to be the year the Edmonton Oilers put it all together and make some noise. They've looked about like I thought they would -- speedy and dangerous offensively with some defensive gaffes. What I didn't expect is for their goaltending to look so shaky they aren't winning games. If they ever do get a solid NHL starter in net, this young skilled team could be really scary.
Calgary has no real household "names" on their team. They were probably going to be the one team no one in the west had to worry about, a circled win on the schedule. The absence of any expectations seems to have caused a "us against the world" mentality, and they've come with a better start than I thought they'd have.
WESTERN CONFERENCE USUAL SUSPECTS
The west has gone a combined 32-9-3 against the east. That's about 75% of the available points they've taken out of those contests. It's not all that surprising, since the west has a tendency to eat up the east in interconference match ups.
Parity is no more apparent than the points standings of the west. A majority (11 of 14) of the teams have between 6-10 points, whereas looking at the east you can see an obvious split between the "haves" and the "have-nots".
The Chicago Blackhawks and St Louis Blues have come out fairly dominant in their seasons, something we've come to expect from these clubs.
WESTERN CONFERENCE 'WELL OF COURSE THEY DID' MOMENTS
The San Jose Sharks went on quite a tear early in the season, going undefeated in their first six games as well. I think I've seen this movie before, however. And in those versions, the Sharks end up going on quite a skid to take them out of the top spot and they're bumped back to fighting with the rest of the teams for those last few playoff spots. Will the ending change this year? Well, they do look legitimately like they're going to be good this year. But they'll have to avoid a major collapse this season to really change most people's minds.
A few moments stand out early this season for their awesomeness or for their just plain weirdness. So on this Friday afternoon, let's relive a few of these from the west.
Thomas Hertl's filthy goal (his fourth of the night):
Jonathan Quick's own goal:
Roberto Luongo's own goal: