2) Comparing that with last season where Buffalo finished with 113, 21 points ahead of the 8th seeded Islanders. The first season of the post Bettman lock out Ottawa paced the East with 113, again 21 points from the 8th seed, this time the Lightning. You have to go back to 2001-2002 to the closest disbursement between top and bottom, then 14 points from top to bottom. Never has there been a time when less than 10 points separated the top seed from the bottom.
3) So why is this? Is this the result of great competition, or is it simple mediocrity on display? Well, its probably both. The top 10-12 Eastern teams talent-wise are more closely matched than in recent memory. There is no one team in the East that one can point to and say; "They have it all", or "that is a team that can win the Cup". Compare that with the West where at least 3 teams (Detroit, SJ, and Anaheim) all are legit Cup threats, while every East team, even the top ones, have serious question marks.
4) The good news for the East is that regardless of how unimpressive their conference is they are still guaranteed a chance to play for the Cup, while the 3 listed teams from the West will have to fight bitterly among each other to get a shot. Perhaps wearing themselves down to give the Eastern team a legitamite chance to win it all