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Strength of divisions in the NHL

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09-10-2012, 02:17 PM
  #1
kurt
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Strength of divisions in the NHL

I got wrapped up in a lengthy discussion with some other Canucks fans on another board last night, after inadvertently ruffling their feathers. I suggested the Canucks had an advantage in becoming #1 overall for the past 2 seasons, and Washington the year before them, as lately wins have been easier to come by in the Northwest and Southeast (even moreso than the NW) than they are in the Central, Pacific, or Atlantic.

We even talked numbers a little, and how the Canucks win/loss ratio within their division was almost 2x as high as it was vs the East, or other divisions in the West.

It's weird - I'm not saying the Canucks aren't one of the very best teams in the NHL. Clearly they are. But as soon as I suggested the Northwest rivals helped Vancouver achieve #1 overall, I was promptly dismissed by this cute "haters gonna hate, not gonna think about it" mentality a lot of Canucks fans carry. It almost felt like I was talking to evangelicals about dinosaur bones.

This can't be such a controversial concept - can it? Am I the only person around here that thinks the quality of a division can help a team rise in the standings? Does believing in such a notion make one less of a fan?


Last edited by Barney Gumble: 09-12-2012 at 03:06 PM. Reason: Original 'thread header' has too much the appearance of trolling...
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09-10-2012, 02:33 PM
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To help facilitate discussion, here's the NW record against the conferences and divisions (excluding the NW):

West = 93-81-26
CEN = 47-41-12
PAC = 46-40-14

East = 43-33-14
Atl = 11-11-6
NE = 17-13-4
SE = 15-9-4

Based on this, the NW had a winning record against the SE and were .500 against the NE. There's only five divisons so beating one and tying one isn't terrible and certainly doesn't represent a giant gulf the way some people make it out to be.

EDIT - I should note that I agree that strength of divison does help teams teams look better or worse but when you play a team can be just as important as what team you are playing against...playing LA in the 1st half of the season was a lot different than playing them in the 2nd half.


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09-10-2012, 02:36 PM
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Nope but 90% of NHL fans make it seem like we're not a good team when we've probably been the best in the West for 20 months or so. It's like Detroit beating up on Columbus Chicago Nashville while St Louis was a decent to elite teams at times.

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09-10-2012, 02:53 PM
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kurt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DJOpus View Post
To help facilitate discussion, here's the NW record against the conferences and divisions (excluding the NW):

West = 93-81-26
CEN = 47-41-12
PAC = 46-40-14

East = 43-33-14
Atl = 11-11-6
NE = 17-13-4
SE = 15-9-4

Based on this, the NW had a winning record against the SE and were .500 against the NE. There's only five divisons so beating one and tying one isn't terrible and certainly doesn't represent a giant gulf the way some people make it out to be.

EDIT - I should note that I agree that strength of divison does help teams teams look better or worse but when you play a team can be just as important as what team you are playing against...playing LA in the 1st half of the season was a lot different than playing them in the 2nd half.
Sure, I get that, but that includes the Canucks in the equation.

If you look at the total wins in each division, you get the following:

1) Atlantic = 231
2) Central = 219
3) Pacific = 201
4) Northwest = 196
5) Northeast = 195
6) Southeast = 188

If you remove the each division's top team to look at the success of each division's bottom 4, you get the following number of wins:

1) Atlantic = 180
2) Central = 170
3) Pacific = 159
4) Southeast = 150
5) Northeast = 146
6) Northwest = 145

I know, with the latter stats you could say "but the rest of the NW won less because they were losing to the Canucks". Keep in mind the Canucks won 51 games, which is the same as the Rangers and Penguins, and only 2 more wins than the Bruins and Blues.

As you can see, some divisions were much better overall than the Northwest last year.

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09-10-2012, 03:23 PM
  #5
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I think on a board like this people are sensitive to the fact that this line of reasoning is most frequently used to undermine the team's success.

That being said there's no question the Northwest is one of the league's worst divisions - but not the worst in my opinion. There were three divisions with three teams under 90 points (the Southeast and Northeast).

The USA today has done some interesting work to calculate the strength of teams in relation to the difficulty of their schedule and they still did not have the NW as the league's worst division last year, the Canucks were still amongst the league's best teams despite having one of the toughest schedules out there.

Let's not forget that even though the Canucks were in a divison with two mediocre teams and two awful teams, the Eastern Conference contenders all get tons of soft matchups (six teams under 85 points).

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09-10-2012, 04:02 PM
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Yeah, it's easy to say "the Canucks are only good because they play in a crappy division" and neglect the fact that they have one of the toughest schedules in the NHL year in year out. Only two teams from the pacific time zone in the NHL have ever won the Stanley Cup, and those were both won within the last 5 years (Ducks and Kings).

Sure a team like the Rangers are good, but their travel is jokes easy. Same with the Penguins. In one trip to Nashville in the '11 playoffs, the Canucks travelled more miles than the Penguins did in their entire Cup run in '09 which was, what, 24 games? Think about that for a second. Do the Canucks have a couple easier games than other teams? Yeah (at least until the rest of the NW gets their shiz together). But the Canucks have it way harder in other areas that other teams get a big advantage in.

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09-10-2012, 04:56 PM
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Ah "Neutral Kurt," what a pleasure. Still haven't seen you post on the Chicago and Boston boards saying their teams were propped up by their divisional records... Colour me not surprised.


This argument, as DBR mentioned, is brought up to undermine the team's success. The reason it is prevalent now is because of Vancouver's two PTs. Not to mention having the most wins out of any team the past 4 yrs.


And the wins argument is especially amusing considering this is a points league as well. Teams benefit from carrying the game to OT. The loser point changes the landscape. I prime example of this is FLA.


But continue on Neutral Kurt. I'm sure you'll be hearing from me a few times before this thread is out.

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09-10-2012, 05:03 PM
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Sure, it's a reason... Yes, it definitely helps... but it doesn't come close to determining why the Canucks have been so dominate the last couple years... It ranks higher than Canuck fans wearing their favourite jerseys and sitting in their favourite chairs... But not nearly as high as the Canucks having a great strategy and (by and large) an appropriate personnel and support that is able to put that strategy into practice real well...

Tweaks in the strategy, a little different look team to implement that strategy, and the Canucks are set... No longer just the best regular season team, and a playoff team (with practically the same roster) capable of both being one game away from the Stanley Cup, and also capable of a 1st round exit...

The Canucks look to have abandoned the notion that the refs will allow strategy, skill and smarts to work in the post season as it will during the regular season (it almost worked in 2010/2011, but the Canucks were gutted with injuries, as a result of the cage match, no-holds-barred battle with Boston, who are more built to play that style)... The Canucks announced this in the most stupid way possible, by trying to be bullies against LA, at a time (first game in the playoffs) when the refs are most likely to call penalties... The Canucks played those early LA games like they were in the middle of playing Boston in round 4 (when practically nothing gets called)... If the Canucks played LA the same way, in round 4, different result / much closer series, IMHO... simply because the refs would allow the Canucks to play so stupid... And, in the playoffs, you need a combination of strategy, skill and smarts - with stupid and recklessness...

The Canucks are adapting by adding more size and grit (better suited to play though the ********, and initiate it themselves - sticking fingers in others mouths, instead of biting the fingers placed in theirs... Punching star players 5 times in the head in front of the ref, instead of being punched 5 times in the head in front of the ref, looking for strategy, skill and smarts to get the advantage)... The Canucks are adding roster pieces that can both better tolerate and play stupid, along with strategy, skill and smarts... It's becoming a pretty nice mix, IMO...

Starting next season (whenever that is) I think it'll be the start of the dawn where the Canucks are no longer considered just the best regular season team - helped greatly by their weak division... But, I think they will probably still dominate their division, so I'm sure that will continue to be an important rationale for some...

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09-10-2012, 05:15 PM
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kurt View Post
As you can see, some divisions were much better overall than the Northwest last year.
Remove the Canucks and the NW still has a winning record against the south-east (12-7-4) and play the other divisions tough (Atlantic: 9-9-5; North-East 11-11-4; Central: 36-35-9; and Pacific 35-35-10). NOTE: This is taking out the best team in the NW and leaving the best team in other divisions in.

I agree the NW is not the strongest division but it isn't likely the worst division and certainly not "by far" the worst division which is what would need to be true to indicate that the Canucks are not deserving President's Trophy champions.

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09-10-2012, 05:22 PM
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kurt View Post
I got wrapped up in a lengthy discussion with some other Canucks fans on another board last night, after inadvertently ruffling their feathers. I suggested the Canucks had an advantage in becoming #1 overall for the past 2 seasons, and Washington the year before them, as lately wins have been easier to come by in the Northwest and Southeast (even moreso than the NW) than they are in the Central, Pacific, or Atlantic.

We even talked numbers a little, and how the Canucks win/loss ratio within their division was almost 2x as high as it was vs the East, or other divisions in the West.

It's weird - I'm not saying the Canucks aren't one of the very best teams in the NHL. Clearly they are. But as soon as I suggested the Northwest rivals helped Vancouver achieve #1 overall, I was promptly dismissed by this cute "haters gonna hate, not gonna think about it" mentality a lot of Canucks fans carry. It almost felt like I was talking to evangelicals about dinosaur bones.

This can't be such a controversial concept - can it? Am I the only person around here that thinks the quality of a division can help a team rise in the standings? Does believing in such a notion make one less of a fan?
It's probably because even if you take out their record vs. the NW they'd still be near the top of the league:

10-11: .672 record vs. non NW teams which would still put them 1st in the league

11-12: .638 record vs. non NW teams which would put them 4th in the league

And of course that doesn't account for the fact that other teams got to beat up on those same teams (every other Western Conference team got 16 games vs. CGY, EDM, MIN, and COL) nor does it account for the easy teams other teams have in their own division which aren't being excluded.

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09-10-2012, 05:24 PM
  #11
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I don't think you're going to get very far telling people that their team isn't as good as it appears, as right as you think you are.

"If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" would apply here.

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09-10-2012, 05:25 PM
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Strong post I in the Eye. The rationale behind why the Canucks are dominant is not localized to the division, yet that is the first aspect people point to.


If you say no team has won more games over the past 4 yrs, again, the division becomes the answer.


If you say the division was just as weak the two years prior to the team winning back to back PTs. People will say the team was propped up back then too... When the Canucks were securing 3rd spot in the Conference.


Very few point to the increase in overall points from the early years to now. Why does that happen? If all things remain equal within the division, why then are the Canucks winning PTs now, while they didn't back then? Is the division getting that much weaker? It couldn't be the Canucks are getting better now could it?


Good teams win.


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09-10-2012, 05:28 PM
  #13
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Winning the PT means that you don't get a game off. Teams bring it every night to prove themselves ("measuring stick"). They know they have to play for 60 mins, or they'll get embarrassed. Not a big difference, but just that extra little motivation... Seen my Canucks do it many times in the past. Also, they had carry-over injuries from the playoffs, and a shorter offseason than all but the Bruins....oh, and the undisputed worst travel schedule. Its not all easy, even the Hawks were blasted by the Oilers for 10 goals in 1 game.... its not like a NW matchup is a night off for Van.

It all goes back to 1 game. Canucks win that 1 game, and this thread doesn't exist.

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09-10-2012, 06:06 PM
  #14
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By another board, do you mean CDC?

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09-10-2012, 06:11 PM
  #15
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I did a breakdown here.
http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh....php?t=1257763

It turns out that the NW division is more comparable to the NE than the SE. The SE is in it's own class of mediocrity.

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09-10-2012, 06:33 PM
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Canucks last year...

Atlantic (2-2-1 for 5/10 points or 50%)

Northeast (6-2-0 for 12/16 points or 75%)

Southeast (3-2-0 for 6/10 points or 60%)

Central (11-6-3 for 25/40 points or 62.5%)

Pacific (11-5-4 for 26/40 points or 65%)

Northwest (18-5-1 for 37/48 points or 77%)

Average of 64% of points gained during the regular season against non NW division opponents. If that average (64%) was applied to the NW division instead of the 77% the Canucks achieved, they would have finished the year with 105 points instead of 111. It really isn't a massive difference. Instead of 1st in the West, they would've been 2nd (behind St. Louis), however, we're also failing to factor in the 20 games St. Louis gets to play against the NW as well, while only adjusting the games the Canucks did.

It really isn't a big deal. The Canucks only play 4 more divisional games than they do non-divisional against Western Conference opponents. The "advantage" gained by playing in a weak division is extremely marginal in my eyes.

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09-10-2012, 06:49 PM
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CCF23 View Post
It really isn't a big deal. The Canucks only play 4 more divisional games than they do non-divisional against Western Conference opponents. The "advantage" gained by playing in a weak division is extremely marginal in my eyes.
I wonder what's more of a determining factor... (1) The division a team is in, or (2) stadium noise? Would the Canucks have won a few more or less games, if Rogers Arena was louder, or quieter? Also, the entrance music... Did the Canucks lose more games when the entrance music contained the lyrics, "I want to run... I want to hide"?

I hope Gillis is wasting his time looking at all of these type of marginal things - that may result in a game win or loss (or few), over the course of 82 games... A Noise Doctor... A DJ Doctor (or Doctor DJ)... A Division Doctor... to go along with the now obvious, and fabled, Sleep Doctor (who I imagine as a fairy with a pouch of magic dust)...

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09-10-2012, 06:50 PM
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CCF23 View Post
Canucks last year...

Atlantic (2-2-1 for 5/10 points or 50%)

Northeast (6-2-0 for 12/16 points or 75%)

Southeast (3-2-0 for 6/10 points or 60%)

Central (11-6-3 for 25/40 points or 62.5%)

Pacific (11-5-4 for 26/40 points or 65%)

Northwest (18-5-1 for 37/48 points or 77%)

Average of 64% of points gained during the regular season against non NW division opponents. If that average (64%) was applied to the NW division instead of the 77% the Canucks achieved, they would have finished the year with 105 points instead of 111. It really isn't a massive difference. Instead of 1st in the West, they would've been 2nd (behind St. Louis), however, we're also failing to factor in the 20 games St. Louis gets to play against the NW as well, while only adjusting the games the Canucks did.

It really isn't a big deal. The Canucks only play 4 more divisional games than they do non-divisional against Western Conference opponents. The "advantage" gained by playing in a weak division is extremely marginal in my eyes.


It's not just you CCF23. I also view the "advantage" as a meaningless byproduct of having a good team, not what props up that team to be good. Boston is a good team. Chicago as well. There are those that will cling to the rationale, propagate a narrative, and those that understand that the team has advanced vs the same competition...leading to more points.



Here's an article from Dec that was tracking divisional strength. I thought it was a good breakdown. Check out the comments made by the writer about the NW. http://viewfrommyseats.com/2009/12/w...on-in-the-nhl/



Oh, and the "other board" TheMicrowave, is referring to the Trades board and this thread in particular. Take a gander: http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...255389&page=15

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09-10-2012, 08:17 PM
  #19
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Yep, it was this Bleach Clean character with the broken enter key putting words in my mouth and busting my chops on the other board he linked, elsewhere on HF. That's what took me by surprise.

As for the words being put in my mouth:

1) I did not say any team was "undeserving" of the Presidents' Trophy. All I said was that a weaker division provides an advantage. Vancouver and Washington both seem to have benefitted from this advantage in recent regular seasons.

2) I did not say the Canucks, or any other teams, were "propped up by their divisional records". I'm not sure how I'd even make a case for that with Chicago, given the relative strength of the Central. Their divisional record, given the competition within their division (less Columbus), is pretty impressive.

Where I think the breakdown is coming from:

Several factors can be viewed as advantages in being successful. One of those advantages for the Canucks is the recent state of the Northwest. It's just as real in the minds of many as it is in the statistics. Acknowledging this fact does not require one to suggest or conclude that anyone is undeserving of anything.

And sure, the amount of travel that Vancouver has to do in the regular season is a disadvantage, especially relative to teams like the Rangers.

I'm not saying that advantage trumps their skill, depth and overall quality of their organization. Of course not - that would be absurd. The Canucks are among the very best in the NHL, and possibly the best when you look at the last 2 seasons collectively.

Moral of the story - each market has their own inherent advantages and disadvantages over the course of the regular season on any given year, which are very real, and can muddle a "who is the best of the regular season" discussion.

The Presidents Trophy is rewarded to the team that earns the most points during the regular season - so there's no disputing who "deserves" it. The team that earns the most points deserves it. Pretty plain and simple. The Canucks deserved it the last 2 years. The Capitals deserved it before them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DJOpus View Post
Remove the Canucks and the NW still has a winning record against the south-east (12-7-4) and play the other divisions tough (Atlantic: 9-9-5; North-East 11-11-4; Central: 36-35-9; and Pacific 35-35-10). NOTE: This is taking out the best team in the NW and leaving the best team in other divisions in.

I agree the NW is not the strongest division but it isn't likely the worst division and certainly not "by far" the worst division which is what would need to be true to indicate that the Canucks are not deserving President's Trophy champions.
Exactly, and I totally agree with this. I think the Northwest and Northeast were similar last year, and the Southeast was weaker than both of them. But the Northwest is still in the bottom half of the NHL divisions (as indicated by your analysis).

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09-10-2012, 08:43 PM
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Math was done and being in the NW was worth 2-4 points total. It's not that much. Maybe it would have cost us the PT by a point, but meh. Divisions aren't as important as the whole conference plays each other a lot (6 games vs 4).

The NW was weak but it wasn't completely terribad outside of the Oilers - the Flames and Avs were chasing playoff spots. Nucks went 11-6-3 vs central and 11-5-4 vs Pac. They beat up on the NW 18-5-1, you play with those numbers and the difference isn't that great when you take out the best team from each division and adjust for number of games played (2-4 points).


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09-10-2012, 09:09 PM
  #21
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Exactly, and I totally agree with this. I think the Northwest and Northeast were similar last year, and the Southeast was weaker than both of them. But the Northwest is still in the bottom half of the NHL divisions (as indicated by your analysis).
If the point you are trying to make is "there are many factors that come into play when determining the PT winner", then why not just say that? Even if you need to think one is weaker than another, it is especially ignorant to not understand the dynamics within a division. The Wild may not be world beaters, but they play the Canucks hard. Same goes with the Flames.

I actually can't believe any Canucks fans even bother arguing this garbage with such well-spoken, eloquent, brilliant fans so hopeful to prove something. You have brought a new thought to the table.

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09-10-2012, 09:34 PM
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kurt View Post
Yep, it was this Bleach Clean character with the broken enter key putting words in my mouth and busting my chops on the other board he linked, elsewhere on HF. That's what took me by surprise.

As for the words being put in my mouth:

1) I did not say any team was "undeserving" of the Presidents' Trophy. All I said was that a weaker division provides an advantage. Vancouver and Washington both seem to have benefitted from this advantage in recent regular seasons.

2) I did not say the Canucks, or any other teams, were "propped up by their divisional records". I'm not sure how I'd even make a case for that with Chicago, given the relative strength of the Central. Their divisional record, given the competition within their division (less Columbus), is pretty impressive.

Where I think the breakdown is coming from:

Several factors can be viewed as advantages in being successful. One of those advantages for the Canucks is the recent state of the Northwest. It's just as real in the minds of many as it is in the statistics. Acknowledging this fact does not require one to suggest or conclude that anyone is undeserving of anything.

And sure, the amount of travel that Vancouver has to do in the regular season is a disadvantage, especially relative to teams like the Rangers.

I'm not saying that advantage trumps their skill, depth and overall quality of their organization. Of course not - that would be absurd. The Canucks are among the very best in the NHL, and possibly the best when you look at the last 2 seasons collectively.

Moral of the story - each market has their own inherent advantages and disadvantages over the course of the regular season on any given year, which are very real, and can muddle a "who is the best of the regular season" discussion.

The Presidents Trophy is rewarded to the team that earns the most points during the regular season - so there's no disputing who "deserves" it. The team that earns the most points deserves it. Pretty plain and simple. The Canucks deserved it the last 2 years. The Capitals deserved it before them.



Exactly, and I totally agree with this. I think the Northwest and Northeast were similar last year, and the Southeast was weaker than both of them. But the Northwest is still in the bottom half of the NHL divisions (as indicated by your analysis).
...only to the un-trained eye

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09-10-2012, 11:36 PM
  #23
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Oh goody, kurt's here.

If the NW being crap is such a minor factor in why the Canucks are a dominant team, why are you even in here? Why are you asking people who have had the "Canucks are only good because of their suck-ass division" trollstick bashed over their heads for the last two years why we don't like it? You may as well ask us why we don't like riot jokes. Or seeing one of our players being carted off the ice injured and reading hundreds of posts on the main board about what a diver the guy is. "Talking to evangelicals about dinosaur bones"? WTF?

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09-10-2012, 11:44 PM
  #24
kurt
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Out of curiousity, would it be disputed if one was to say...

- the Capitals had benefitted from their struggling Southeast rivals in winning their Presidents' Trophy?
- the Bruins had an advantage this season in playing most of their games against struggling Northeast opponents?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProspectProphet View Post
...only to the un-trained eye
You're right, it looks like there is some eye training involved to find the optimal perspective to not see what is there.

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09-10-2012, 11:51 PM
  #25
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I don't mind people noticing that Edmonton has been bottoming out at the same time Vancouver has been riding high. Obviously these things are connected to some degree. But to make it relevant you would have to account for all the other factors that are extrinsic to the concept of "the team playing well." These would include travel fatigue for example, a handicap that is fairly extreme in the NW.

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