Puck Prospectus: Survival of the fittest

The Blackhawks have the talent to soar above the dangerous West. Jerry Lai/US Presswire

As January plods along, a simple glance at the at the conference standings shows the competiveness of the Western Conference compared to that of the East.
Consider that the Bruins, currently the No. 5 seed in the East, would be out of the playoffs if they played in the West, joining last year's Stanley Cup finalists, the Detroit Red Wings. Through last weekend, in head-to-head matchups between Eastern and Western teams this season, the West has won 70 in regulation and 16 more in overtime or shootouts, compared to the East's marks of 47 wins in regulation and 17 in overtime. In those games, the West has outscored the East by a total of 44 goals and outshot them by 155 shots.

With such dominance from the West, what lessons can we take from that come playoff time? To get to those answers, let's further break down the disparity between the Eastern and Western Conferences to see who has the best shot at reaching the Stanley Cup finals.