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Demystifying the East

The Eastern Conference is in a state of upheaval.

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Seriously - what the hell?

Boston is suffering through the stabbing headaches of a “Stanley Cup hangover,” but being in the basement is inexcusable for the Bruins. (Though I must admit, it feels wonderful seeing them down there.) Once they shake off the cobwebs, expect them to return to the upper end of the top 8.

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Expect Chara to ditch the bunny costume and resume eating baby bunnies soon.

Meanwhile, well-regarded Montreal and the New York Rangers stumbled onto the ice this season, and are struggling to recover from their early season slumps.

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Screw the global economy. "Occupy Montreal" is ready to unleash some good old fashioned hockey hell. Might want to start winning some games, Habs.

The Florida Panthers are ahead of the Sabres, joining other elite clubs such as Ottawa and Toronto who are in the top 4.

The day this picture resembles the Eastern Conference Finals is the day I shoot my TV.

Again: what the hell?

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Hockey bloggers everywhere are scratching their heads, and are just waiting for the Sens and Leafs to implode so they don't have to explain just what is going on in the East.

As middling as Buffalo has been, they have done enough to make most “contenders” lists in the early goings. But what of those pesky Leafs and Sens? They can’t possibly keep this up, right? Well, according to Harrison Mooney of Yahoo! Sports, the Leafs don’t have to do all that much to stay in (gulp) playoff contention:

They’re 7-2-1. They’re 5-0-1 at home. Phil Kessel is on pace for 147 points. Can this be real?

Probably not, and I suspect even Leafs fans know the team will eventually regress. Still, the team has put together a nice cushion. A .500 record the rest of the way and the Maple Leafs would still finish with 90 points. A slightly better pace and the Leafs could find themselves in a playoff spot.

At 7-5-0, the same could be argued for the Sens. But as they’ve charged the standings, they’ve done it through a minefield, and both clubs are standing on a landmine right now. And it won’t take much for everything to blow up from underneath them. We are, of course, talking about our favorite stat: the goals for/goals against ratio.

The goal differential statistic is like a health indicator – or in the Leafs and Sens case (particularly the Sens), a sickness indicator. People and hockey teams can function, they can succeed when ill – but eventually, the illness will take over. Sickness takes us down.

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The Bruins have the hangover, but they aren't the ones really sick in the Eastern Conference.


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