The toughest division

Jean Lefebvre
July 24 2009 11:03AM

champion

Earlier this week, in the course of discussing a different topic, the conversation drifted to the relative mediocrity of the Northwest Division. It wasn’t so long ago that the Northwest was being touted as the best in the National Hockey League, and if that claim was debatable then, it would be preposterous now.

It all depends on how frame the argument, of course, but it seemed a stretch to call the Calgary-Colorado-Edmonton-Minnesota-Vancouver grouping the league’s best even a couple of years ago when the theory was in vogue. Some proponents were careful to use the phrase “most competitive from top to bottom,” which is much more accurate. Two seasons ago, for instance, the first-to-worst spread in the Northwest was a mere 10 points and no team in that division finished more than three points out of the Western Conference’s top eight.

The other divisions, on the other hand, feature much more disparity between the rich and the poor. The Northwest was decidedly middle class as evidenced by the fact that no winner of the division has won the Cup since 2001 (only the Northeast Division has gone longer without a championship) and that the Northwest winner has been slotted in the No. 3 playoff seed (i.e. the lowest of all division champs) for the past six seasons.

In 2008-09, several former weak sisters in other divisions muscled up and the Northwest’s reputation was further diminished. Just check out the winning percentages of each division against the rest of the West — Central vs. Pacific/Northwest (.550); Pacific vs. Central/Northwest (.485); Northwest vs. Central/Pacific (.465).

The Flames were the only Northwest team to post a true winning record against either of the other two divisions (they were 11-9 against both the Pacific and the Central) while the first-place Canucks managed to play .500 inter-division/intra-conference hockey (20-20).

So, with that sparkling record against the conference’s other two divisions, with four teams in the playoffs (and the fifth only three points out) and with two representatives in the Conference final, can there be any doubt the Central is the best/toughest division in the West?

In a recent comment, Wanye Gretz presents the case for the Atlantic Division, which is the East’s version of the Central in regards to having placed four teams in the 2009 playoffs. As WG notes, the most notable shortcoming of the Atlantic is the absolute awfulness of the last-place Islanders, who are a far, far worse team than the Nashville Predators, who ere the Central Division cellar-dwellers.

On the other hand, an Atlantic team beat a Central team for the Stanley Cup and Northwest clubs had a 17-13 advantage in head-to-head play during the regular season (only the Flyers had a losing record against the Central while only the Red Wings had a winning record against the Atlantic).

All that said, while recognizing that the Atlantic had the edge in some key categories this past season, the vote here is that based on present rosters, the Central is presently the best division in the NHL. What say you?

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Lefebvre is in that awkward stage of hockey following -- old enough to fondly remember the Cleveland Barons and too set in his ways to accept charity points and games where there's a winner but apparently no loser. As a long-time ink-stained wretch, he's also a firm believer in the old Bobby Knight quote about journalists: "All of us learn to write in second grade, but most of us go on to better things."
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#1 jeanshorts
July 24 2009, 11:18AM
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Is there something leaking out of the bottom of that goat???? That's the hottest thing I've seen all morning.

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#2 ronaldo
July 24 2009, 11:07AM
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Nice looking family, Jean.

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#3 Wanye Gretz
July 24 2009, 11:10AM
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@ ronaldo:

OOOOH And a good start to the day!

*gleefully sits in front of screen waiting for Lefebvre to torch ronaldo*

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#4 Chaz
July 24 2009, 11:12AM
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Is that goat a free agent? Any chance he would be willing to come to Edmonton? We'll give you Penner for him.

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#5 Wanye Gretz
July 24 2009, 11:15AM
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@ Chaz:

I found this picture with the caption "Denis Grebeshkov signs with Oilers, immediately wins 2 ribbons"

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#6 Chaz
July 24 2009, 11:18AM
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@ Wanye Gretz: I told you Grebs was a keeper Wayne. Not sure why he's growing a playoff beard though?

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#7 Chaz
July 24 2009, 11:22AM
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jeanshorts wrote:

Is there something leaking out of the bottom of that goat???? That’s the hottest thing I’ve seen all morning.

Does someone have an extra keyboard? I just runied mine spitting coffee on it while laughing at this quote. Thanks a lot Jeanshorts!

*Starts to come up with excuses as to why his laptop no longer works. Any ideas ON?

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#8 Rogue
July 24 2009, 11:22AM
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That suuurrre is a purdy goat you have there.

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#9 MattL
July 24 2009, 11:23AM
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They guy in the middle is holding a ribbon for,

"Child Molester of the Year Award"

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#10 Wyseguy
July 24 2009, 11:24AM
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Goat-a-licious

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#11 dyckster
July 24 2009, 11:26AM
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jeanshorts wrote:

Is there something leaking out of the bottom of that goat???? That’s the hottest thing I’ve seen all morning.

Sure looks like it.

That's one impressive horn he's sportin too.

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#12 dyckster
July 24 2009, 11:27AM
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dyckster wrote:

That’s one impressive horn he’s sportin too.

When I say "he" I mean the goat.

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#13 Wanye Gretz
July 24 2009, 11:29AM
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@ jeanshorts:

OMG THERE IS!!!!

I am impressed with the level you scrutinize these pictures JS

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#14 jeanshorts
July 24 2009, 11:33AM
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@ Wanye Gretz:

As a life long member of 4H** I always make sure to take a good look at the undercarriage.

**not actually a member of 4H.

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#15 Duke
July 24 2009, 11:35AM
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That's actually an old picture of Steve Smith and his family.

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#16 dyckster
July 24 2009, 11:36AM
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Grandpa has a little twinkle in his eye, I think he's gettin ready to pull out his velcro gloves.....

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#17 ronaldo
July 24 2009, 11:37AM
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dyckster wrote:

Grandpa has a little twinkle in his eye, I think he’s gettin ready to pull out his velcro gloves…..

How do you think they earned the second ribbon...

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#18 Poo Czar
July 24 2009, 11:37AM
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Despite his hockey shortcomings, Ma and Pa Sutter were still supportive of Gary and his accomplishments.

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#19 Sandra
July 24 2009, 11:44AM
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Maybe Lowe will beg the Billy Goat to be the mascott for the Oilers, Send him a video.

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#20 Ender the Dragon
July 24 2009, 11:44AM
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I call foul on the new poll. If we're being at all accurate about the current situation in Edmonton VS the current situation in NY, then the poll should read:

Biron/Rolosson/DiPietro: $8.4M Khabibulin/Deslauriers: $4.375M

That's a completely different question. I know you're mad about how the last poll turned out, Wanye, but if you're going to play, play fair.

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#21 Archaeologuy
July 24 2009, 11:46AM
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@ Poo Czar: That reads like a Far Side caption. Well played, good sir.

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#22 dyckster
July 24 2009, 11:47AM
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ronaldo wrote:

How do you think they earned the second ribbon…

And the winner of goat inbreeder of the year goes to!

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#23 ronaldo
July 24 2009, 11:47AM
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Ender the Dragon wrote:

I call foul on the new poll. If we’re being at all accurate about the current situation in Edmonton VS the current situation in NY, then the poll should read: Biron/Rolosson/DiPietro: $8.4M Khabibulin/Deslauriers: $4.375M That’s a completely different question. I know you’re mad about how the last poll turned out, Wanye, but if you’re going to play, play fair.

This has nothing to do with the goat. Please stay on topic.

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#24 forsoothed
July 24 2009, 11:49AM
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can that goat play left wing?

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#25 Archaeologuy
July 24 2009, 11:55AM
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forsoothed wrote:

can that goat play left wing?

Yes but he's Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad defensively.

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#26 dyckster
July 24 2009, 11:57AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Yes but he’s Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad defensively.

He'd be a good shot blocker though with all those appendages.

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#27 Ender the Dragon
July 24 2009, 11:59AM
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forsoothed wrote:

can that goat play left wing?

Archaeologuy wrote:

Yes but he’s Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad defensively.

Still, the number of random things eaten off the bench during the game would go down.

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#28 Archaeologuy
July 24 2009, 12:01PM
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@ Ender the Dragon: Until Penner gets hungry in the 2nd intermission and all of a sudden the new LW cant be found anywhere.

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#29 ronaldo
July 24 2009, 12:02PM
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@ Ender the Dragon: That's only if we trade Penner for the goat.

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#30 Hoss
July 24 2009, 12:03PM
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Did you get permission from the Prongers to use their family photo?

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#31 Lefebvre
July 24 2009, 12:03PM
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Wanye Gretz wrote:

@ ronaldo: OOOOH And a good start to the day! *gleefully sits in front of screen waiting for Lefebvre to torch ronaldo*

Are you kidding? As long as the sanitarium allows the inmates to have access to sharp objects, it's best to gave this whole matter as wide a berth as possible.

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#32 Lofty
July 24 2009, 12:07PM
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Don't know if there are many College Football fans on the Nation but the West is a lot like the SEC. The teams spend most of the year beating the crap out of each other and then are worn down for the championships.

Since Teebow is not supposed to be an NFL quarterback maybe the Oil can draft him to add sime size and grit?

I'm sure Bowmester would want to play with him

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#33 MattL
July 24 2009, 12:08PM
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forsoothed wrote:

can that goat play left wing?

Finally, we found someone with enough balls to stand in front of a Souray slapper.

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#34 Hemmertime
July 24 2009, 12:12PM
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Best division since lockout: Northeast. Boston MTL Ottawa and MTL consistent, the lowly leafs throw it off though.

Best Division last year: Atlantic

Best Division next year: Northeast

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#35 Hemmertime
July 24 2009, 12:14PM
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Erg best next year meant Central

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#36 Wanye Gretz
July 24 2009, 12:25PM
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@ Lefebvre:

I feel terrible that Jean wrote this great article seeking insight on divisional strength and my photo of a leaking goat has hijacked the conversation.

Having said all of that those three dudes in the picture sure look proud of that goat.

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#37 Librarian Mike
July 24 2009, 12:30PM
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Man, that Sarah Jessica Parker just wins award after award.

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#38 Hemmertime
July 24 2009, 12:31PM
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@ Wanye Gretz: Hey, now you making me feel bad for my intense attraction to the woman in the picture.

Is it just me or do the 2 on the left appear to never have seen a camera before?

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#39 Poo Czar
July 24 2009, 12:31PM
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Wanye Gretz wrote:

Having said all of that those three dudes in the picture sure look proud of that goat.

Sadly, I think the one on the right is supposed to be female...

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#40 Hemmertime
July 24 2009, 12:31PM
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@ Librarian Mike: LMFAO, Iced tea through nose

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#41 Wanye Gretz
July 24 2009, 12:41PM
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@ Librarian Mike:

That's well played.

@ Poo Czar:

I'm going to need a spectrometer or some other type of laboratory instrument to tell me that. A visual inspection has proven inconclusive.

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#42 Librarian Mike
July 24 2009, 12:43PM
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Most people don't know this, but the dude in the middle is only 13.

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#43 RobInALab
July 24 2009, 12:57PM
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Anybody notice the playoff beard on that goat? How long of a playoff series did it have to go through to become the champ?

Also I'm somewhat curious as to why the goat seems to think it needs to raise its tail when grandpa is behind it.

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#44 Greg MC
July 24 2009, 01:03PM
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Mama's holding a chain and the goat is leaking with it's eyes closed. Wonder if she knew David Carradine?

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#45 dyckster
July 24 2009, 01:03PM
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If someone produced/wrote a romantic comedy about the dude in the middle having a 1/2 year relationship with the goat, would the theme song be "I just spent six months with a leaky goat" by the Split Enz?

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#46 Atlantic Oil
July 24 2009, 01:06PM
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Looks like ol Betty on the left has a blackberry on her hip...Must be Grebeshkovs agent..

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#47 scorecoff hemmercules
July 24 2009, 02:04PM
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If we sacrifice that goat to the hockey gods will we make the playoffs next season???

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#48 Archaeologuy
July 24 2009, 02:33PM
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scorecoff hemmercules wrote:

If we sacrifice that goat to the hockey gods will we make the playoffs next season???

What do the hockey gods want with Grebeshkov, Nilsson, and Penner?

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#49 ronaldo
July 24 2009, 02:41PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

scorecoff hemmercules wrote: If we sacrifice that goat to the hockey gods will we make the playoffs next season??? What do the hockey gods want with Grebeshkov, Nilsson, and Penner?

Maybe nothing, but shouldn't we at least try.

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#50 Boris
July 24 2009, 03:27PM
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@ Poo Czar: b>Poo Czar wrote:

Despite his hockey shortcomings, Ma and Pa Sutter were still supportive of Gary and his accomplishments.

I just started reading todays postings and I have to say that yours made me cry I was laughing so hard...<

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