Saturday, February 22, 2014

Alternative NHL Point Systems

About a year ago I put together a post that outlined a couple of different ways that the NHL could redo their points system. If you want a more in depth explanation you can go read that post but I will cut/paste some of the stuff I wrote then because I still think it rings true.

Other than that my opinion is pretty much the same. The NHL points system is flawed. It does not reward teams for winning in regulation and could possibly reward teams for going to the shootout too much rather than winning games in regulation or in the five minute overtime. Currently the NHL rewards two points for any sort of win. That is a regulation win, overtime win, and shootout win. You also get a point for just getting to overtime. So, essentially you could tie in regulation and in the first five seconds of overtime give up a goal and you still get a point.

This is all well and good and the shootout can be an exciting thing but I am not sure this is the best way to reward teams that don't rely on a glorified skills competition to win. If this is so good then why aren't playoff games relegated to shootouts? I get the point, you can't play all night games in mid February with an 82 game schedule. That's fine, I don't mind the shootout, but lets not reward these teams with the same amount of points that you get for winning in regulation.

With that said, here are the way the standings look over the Olympic break with the points system the NHL uses now:

Looks pretty clean. The top three teams each make the playoffs and the other two are wild cards and can come from either division.

Now, I looked at a few other options. The first is what the Olympics uses where teams get three points for a regulation win, two points for an overtime/shootout win, and then one point for an overtime shootout loss. Here is what that looks like:

This changes things up a little bit. You can see that Philadelphia and Montreal go from the third seed in each of their divisions up to the second seed and over in the West Chicago takes a massive jump in the standings over St. Louis. Now they are tied and with the Olympic point system they are six points ahead. Sure, that is only two regulation wins but why should the Blackhawks be punished for winning games in regulation.

This would actually change the playoffs in the West as this format gives Dallas one of the wild card spots. Currently they are tied with Phoenix for the final spot. Dallas has three more regulation wins than Phoenix. This rewards that.

The second look I give is if you eliminate loser points all together and give teams three points for a regulation win, two points for an overtime win, and one point for a shootout win. Here is what that looks like:

This does a little changing of playoff position too. Montreal would move up a spot as would Colorado. The biggest loser here is Washington who would drop from 5th in the standings to seventh thanks to losing a ton of overtime games.

Also this format would change the playoffs a bit. Columbus would actually get in over Detroit in one of the wild card spots thanks to the Red Wings getting a ton of points from losing in overtime.

The final one I looked at was the winning team in regulation or overtime would get two points while a shootout winner would get one point with the loser getting no points. Here is how that looks:

Again, some of the same changes here. There are playoff implications with this one as Detroit would be on the outside looking in while Columbus would get in.

I guess for me the idea of a loser getting a point really just doesn't make sense. When you are talking about getting the best teams in the playoffs they should be who was able to win more games and do that within regulation. Rewarding teams for losing might not get that done. Prime example this year is Washington. Right now they are one point back from the playoffs and they have 15 regulation wins in 59 games played. How is that worthy of being in playoff contention?

The three point game really gets me too. During the stretch run teams that are battling for that last playoff spot in the current format, it makes it nearly impossible for teams to jockey for position and make up any ground since teams are playing for one point almost on a nightly basis.

This is what I came up with on that matter last year:

This (three point games) is one that a lot of people don't talk about but is a real problem. Adam Gretz did a nice piece on teams that were pretty much out of the playoff race just over the halfway point of the season. In another piece he brought up a huge stat in another post that stated two big time stats:

-- Going back to the 2000-01 season, a span of 10 full seasons, there have been 62 teams that have been more than five points out of a playoff spot on December 20.

-- Only four of them (or a little over 6 percent) were able to overcome that deficit to qualify for the postseason: The 2010-11 Sabres (eight points), 2008-09 Blues (six points), 2007-08 Capitals (seven points) and 2007-08 Predators (nine points).

Now those stats aren't updated for last year but I think the point still stands. Three point games aren't good for teams when winning teams in regulation only gets two points.

This isn't going to change. As Kings coach Darryl Sutter said he doesn't want to do the Olympic style. Why?

“I hope not. Why? Because there are history books. The overtime change, the point change, the shootout change, that to me was enough."

So, in essence, not messing with the record books too much is more important than getting a more worthy team into the playoffs? I am sorry, there are so many different ways the game have been scored and played throughout the year that the record book could have been separated 100 different times.

Nothing will happen with this but I think this is something that should be looked at. While it doesn't change a whole lot of things I think it would make teams play a better game of hockey towards the end of the season. Take away loser points or give an extra points for regulation wins and I think you will see more desperate hockey and better chances of those fringe playoff teams actually having a chance to get into the playoffs rather than the wild card teams holding the puck and playing the left win lock just to get to overtime and get one point.

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