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Penguins best vs. Western Conference

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By David Golebiewski
Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, 4:30 p.m.
 

If the Penguins are to retain top seeding in the Eastern Conference and home-ice advantage in the playoffs, they'll have to earn it by vanquishing juggernaut teams in the Western Conference.

Nineteen of the Penguins' 39 remaining regular-season games come against the West, which is dominating Eastern Conference competition this season. Such a grueling schedule would concern most Eastern teams, but the Penguins excel when they play the best in the West.

Eastern Conference teams have earned a mere 48.1 percent of total possible points when squaring off against the Western Conference. Just four Eastern squads would make the playoffs if they had to switch conferences.

The Penguins are one of those teams, however, and they carry a 7-2-0 record against the Western Conference into Sunday's game against the Winnipeg Jets. Among Eastern teams, the Penguins boasts the highest points percentage against the West.

Matching up

Team Points pct. vs. West

Penguins 77.8

Lightning 73.3

Bruins 72.7

Maple Leafs 55.9

Canadiens 52.8

Source: NHL.com

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is shutting down Western teams, allowing just 1.74 goals per game (2.15 goals allowed against the Eastern Conference).

The Penguins also are getting a boost from Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz, who ramp up their already-impressive scoring output when taking on the Western Conference.

Player, team West East

Sidney Crosby, Penguins 1.78 1.35

Chris Kunitz, Penguins 1.22 1.03

Alex Ovechkin, Capitals 1.20 1.00

John Tavares, Islanders 1.19 1.04

Kyle Okposo, Islanders 1.19 0.88

Source: ESPN.com

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