Western Conference to East foes: Kneel before Zod, mortals!

"We just turned it on and usually when we turn it on, teams can't handle us ... Our speed, our size, everything. I don't think you can handle the Sharks for 60 minutes." - San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton, after defeating the Boston Bruins, 5-2, last night. (Working the Corners)

You may have noticed that the two best teams in hockey, statistically, met last night in Boston. The Sharks handed the Bruins their first loss when entering the third period with a lead this season, wearing down the Eastern Conference leaders before posting a four-goal rally in the final frame.

But it's not like the Western Conference's powers haven't been wearing down the East all season long. The Sharks improved to 10-1-1 against the opposing conference, and they aren't alone in dominating their potential Stanley Cup finals foes. It's been a case of mere mortals against the superpowers of the West; and even the most heralded Eastern Conference teams have been humbled in the process.

Is this a harbinger of the inevitable? Will the Cup remain in the West? As General Zod asked in "Superman II," "Is there no one on this planet to even challenge me?"

Here's what the Western Conference's top nine teams have done against the East, and specifically against the Atlantic Division, which could once again send four teams into the Stanley Cup playoffs when the final regular season horn sounds:

Team

Overall Record

Record vs. East

Record vs. Atlantic

1. San Jose Sharks

37-7-7, 81 pts.

10-1-1

5-0-0

2. Detroit Red Wings

36-11-7, 79 pts.

9-4-1

3-0-1

3. Calgary Flames

31-18-4, 66 pts.

8-1-1

2-0-0

4. Chicago Blackhawks

29-14-8, 66 pts.

4-2-2

 1-1-1

5. Dallas Stars

26-19-7, 59 pts.

7-4-3

4-2-0

6. Anaheim Ducks

27-24-5, 59 pts.

6-8-1

1-4-1

7. Vancouver Canucks

25-20-8, 58 pts.

6-5-2

2-2-1

8. Minnesota Wild

27-22-3, 57 pts.

11-2-1

2-1-0

9. Columbus Blue Jackets

26-23-5, 57 pts.

8-3-1

2-3-1

Five of the top eight teams have absolutely feasted on the East, with the Ducks as the strange anomaly in the pack. (Maybe it has something to do with being a one-time team facing good, disciplined systems in the East.) OK, not the only strange anomaly: According to the NHL, Minnesota actually has 11 wins to two losses against the East. The hell?

To be fair, the Sharks' 5-0 record against the Atlantic is deceiving: Four of the five games were at home, which is quite the advantage when you have the best home record in hockey. But they still had to win the games, right?

The top three teams in the West are 27-6-3 against the East. The top three teams in the East, against the West? Try three games over .500.

Team

Overall Record

Record vs. West

Record vs. NW

1. Boston Bruins

39-9-7, 85 pts.

7-4-1

3-3-0

2. Washington Capitals

34-16-4, 72 pts.

7-9-0

1-3-0

3. New Jersey Devils

34-17-3, 71 pts.

6-5-0

1-1-0

4. Philadelphia Flyers

28-15-9, 65 pts.

6-5-3

3-2-0

5. Montreal Canadiens

29-19-6, 64 pts.

7-2-1

2-1-0

6. New York Rangers

29-20-5, 63 pts.

7-5-2

0-2-1

7. Buffalo Sabres

28-20-6, 62 pts.

7-6-1

3-1-1

8. Florida Panthers

26-19-8, 60 pts.

6-7-1

3-2-0

9. Carolina Hurricanes

27-22-5, 59 pts.

6-6-1

0-3-0

We used the Northwest Division as the litmus test, because it has three teams in the postseason picture, a pesky Edmonton Oilers club and the feast-or-famine Colorado Avalanche.

The stunner here might be the Capitals, who may just not travel well. They're a combined 3-7-0 against the Northwest and the Pacific Divisions, including five losses on the road. Meanwhile, they're 11-1-2 against the Atlantic Division, which is completely within driving distances of D.C.

The full conference vs. conference and divisional breakdowns can be found on NHL.com. If you think all of this comparison is poppycock, keep in mind that the 2007-08 Penguins were 8-1-1 against the West while the eventual Stanley Cup champion Red Wings were 7-2-1 against the East.

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