NHL release: Season forecast

From the official NHL release:


Competitive balance has been a hallmark of recent National Hockey League seasons. Building

upon nightly unpredictability, it has produced playoff races that invariably go down to the regular

season's final day and post-season match-ups that defy prognostication.

With the 2012-13 NHL season concentrated for each Club into a 48-game sprint over just 99 frenetic

days, that competitive balance figures to be heightened. And that's saying a lot considering:


* Eight different clubs have captured the Stanley Cup over the past eight seasons.

* No team has repeated as Stanley Cup champion since 1998.

* 15 of 30 clubs -- half the League -- have advanced to the Conference Finals in the past five years.

* 29 of 30 clubs have qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2006.

* Six of the past 12 Stanley Cup champions have come from the Eastern Conference, six have

come from the West.

* 23 of 30 clubs have won a division title since 2005-06.

* An average 30% turnover in playoff clubs year-over-year since 2005-06.

* 10 different players in the past 11 seasons have captured the Art Ross Trophy as the

League's regular-season scoring champion.


* The eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings clinched a playoff berth on Apr. 5, the

third-last day of the season, when the Dallas Stars lost to the Nashville Predators in Game #1209

of the 1,230-game NHL schedule.

* 11 of 16 conference seeds were still up for grabs on the final day of the 2011-12 regular season.

* Seven of the eight playoff matchups were yet to be determined; 27 potential first-round series

matchups were reduced to the final eight in one day.


* Entering the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the eighth seed in the West, the Kings went 16-4

(.800), tied for the second-best championship run since all rounds became best-of-seven in

1987. The Kings became the second eighth seed to ever reach the Stanley Cup Final

(Edmonton, 2006) and the first to win it all. The Devils were the first sixth seed to advance to the

final round since Calgary in 2004.

* The Kings finished 13th in the overall standings during the regular season, becoming the third

club outside the top six in the past four years to win the Stanley Cup.