Of the four teams still left in the NHL Playoffs– three of them at some point played in the Southeast Division.
Let that sink in. Let the worst division in all of hockey; a division that angered so many because they got a top-seed when many times they were undeserving, a division you could say set off these new divisions because of how inferior it was to the others. That division accounts for 75% of the Final Four.
Of course, the Winnipeg Jets only played two seasons after moving from Atlanta because the NHL powers that be didn’t own a map that could have given a better option from the Central Division at the time to move to the Southeast– but whatever. The representation of this often horrid division is finally coming to light.
For the Capitals, they were seven-time Southeast Division champions, while the Lightning had only two division titles to their name– one of which led to a Stanley Cup in 2004. In the 14 seasons that the Southeast Division was in existence, eight times did more than one team get into the playoffs. The biggest margin of victory for a year in the Southeast was that 2003-04 season, where Tampa Bay had 106 points, which was 28 points better than the 2nd place Atlanta Thrashers.
Granted, with all the turnover in the league since the last time there were six divisions only four years ago, it’s hard to compare what would happen now since they’re all spread out in different divisions; but I’d like to believe that the cornerstones to these teams had major ties to the Southeast Era (or Error depending on who you ask). Alex Ovechkin, Dustin Byfuglien, Steven Stamkos– all of those guys were in the midst of the Southeastern heyday. The fact all three came out of their division is pretty fantastic, not only that– but we could see an all former-Southeast Division Stanley Cup Final if Winnipeg beats out Vegas to face one of their former foes.
For my money, however, I see it as a media member’s dream of Vegas beating Winnipeg in six games, while Tampa takes out Washington in seven to make it a very sunny, very warm Stanley Cup Final.