The Record (W-L-T)There always seems to be a few stories about how good the West is compared to the East in the few cross conference games we see each season. Since the new schedule of change , there have been fewer than 400 cross-conference game. Below I have the data I consider important about these games. The first table show the record for the western teams vs. the eastern conferences split into two groups home (H) and away (A). I've included the west vs. west figures for one season in the row below for comparison.
Some people have suggested the domination is a result of the eastern teams playing in a different time zones and traveling farther than normal, but as you can see from the table above the western teams do only 3% better at home and 9% on the road compared to the normal home-away advantage. Also worth noting, the home-away advantage is smaller for the inter conference games than the west vs. east games.
The statistic that best correlates with winning is goal differential, but there are several ways to get to the same goal differential. Below is a table that presents what I consider the most important statistics in hockey for these west vs. east games. Like above, the table is split into home/away games.
[S = Shots, G = Goals, EG = Expected goals (based on shots on goals), SQN = shot quality neutral save percentage]
The most interesting portion of this table is the fact that the east is actually significantly better at getting short handed goals, but these goals seem to costing them power play goals against. It would appear that the east is encouraging offense at the cost of the powerplay goals against. It's hard to measure if this strategy is paying off though.
At home the west is getting 27% more expected goals against the east (15% more shots)
Some people have mentioned that goaltending is better in the west. This does not appear to be the case either as on average the east actually has better save percentage numbers.
None of the data can really clarify whether the west is better because of it's offense or it's defense, but it's worth noting the if the west played the east every game they'd have 9% more goals and if the east played the west every game they'd have 9% fewer goals! So if they split the season evenly the east would be down by about 5% and the west up by about 5%.
Note: The data is a couple weeks old.