|What should have happened this year (right banner)|
Much has been made about the NHL’s point system and it’s flaws in the past. A third point is awarded once two teams reach overtime, it is mystifying where this point comes from as a "normal" game awards only two points to the winner and none to the loser. This extra point has changed the landscape of first round playoff match-ups many times.
I feel that this year is a little bit different. The Florida Panthers, who won the Southeast division this year, participated in 24 games that went into overtime. Those 24 overtime games led the Eastern Conference, followed closely by the Montreal Canadiens with 21.
What I found troubling wasn’t that the Florida Panthers were in so many overtime games (it seems to be becoming increasingly normal for teams to head into overtime): it’s that they lost 18 of the 24 overtime games they were in – giving them 18 points I don’t feel they should have. Losing all of those overtime games really was the only reason they were able to win the Southeast division, they really weren’t a good hockey team.
The Olympics have a system in place that has been talked about a lot around the blogosphere as an option for the NHL and would help fix this problem. They award three points for a regulation win, 2 points for an overtime or shootout win and 1 point for an overtime or shootout loss. This would ensure that no matter how long the game takes to be decided, three points in total are always awarded.
I think that this is a great way for the NHL to go, however I don’t like that the loser of the hockey game is still somewhat rewarded. I would like to see the loser get no points, no matter when they lose, with the winner getting two. In theory they could do away with the point system altogether and move to a winning percentage as the NBA and MLB already do.
Follow me over the jump to see where the teams fall with each system.
This is how the NHL standings look right now:
As you can see Florida has three teams directly behind them who have more points then them, this is sad in its own right but, of course, is a completely different issue.
One thing that jumps out at me is that Toronto, a lottery team, has only one less ROW then Florida and only three more wins in total. Every team except Toronto, NYI and Montreal have more ROW then Florida.
Here are the standings if the NHL employed a 2-0 system:
Here you can see that you have to travel a pretty long way to find a team with less points then Florida, all the way down to Winnipeg in fact. This would leave the Panthers in the 10th seed, giving Washington an easy division title. This system would also see Philadelphia and Pittsburgh play different teams in the first round of the playoffs and Buffalo squeak in at 8th.
Here are the standings if the NHL employed the 3-2-1 system:
Things don’t change very much here. Florida would drop down to 11th place and Toronto would move up again to 12th.
As you can see, changing the point system to guarantee the same amount of points awarded per game doesn’t change the top teams standing very much. However for playoff races and, this year at least, for the Southeast division title it changes a lot.
We could probably sit here and come up with a point system that would have seen the Maple Leafs win the Northeast but obviously that would be changing too much (or would it?). Either one of these systems (3-2-1 or 2-0) makes the point system fair and consistent as well as giving trailing teams a fighting chance to jump into the playoff picture.
In my mind professional sports are about rewarding the winner and humiliating the loser. In that vein, why, for 30 percent of the Florida Panthers season, was the NHL awarding them half of a win for a loss?