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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Would 3-point Wins or No Loser Point Alter The Standings

I need a break from COVID-19 talk. I know it is serious, and it is great to see our country taking precautions to prevent the spread of it, but there’s only much to say about it (listen to the experts). The one benefit of no games, is it gives me time to look at some articles I’ve wanted to write, but never found the time.

Well, we have a lot of time — at least two months before the NHL resumes. Man, that would be awesome if they started playing in May, but even if they don’t we are well-versed in how to handle things when there is no hockey.

Remember when we went 18 months without an Oilers hockey game? The Oilers played April 3rd, 2004 in Vancouver and didn’t play again until October 5th, 2005 — a full 18 months and two days. Thankfully there were some playoffs in May and June to watch, but NHL fans went 16 months without meaningful hockey games. We can handle a few months, no problem.

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Let’s look at the NHL standings and the current model. Teams get two points for a win, none for a loss and one point for a loss in overtime or the shootout. Some games have three points in total, while others have only two. It is not an ideal system, but how much different would the standings be if we went to different systems?

Here are the standings today, including Point %. I included them just in case when the NHL returns they go directly to playoffs and use P% to determine the standings.

It is important to note if they use P% then the New York Islanders would knock out Columbus.

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In the Western Conference, Vancouver would be third in the Pacific, Nashville would be the first wildcard team and Calgary would be second. This won’t happen, but it is interesting to see.

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But if there was a different format the standings would change in both conferences.

Let’s look at if they just handed out wins, losses and ties. Teams would play overtime and if no goals were scored the games would end in a tie.

The Rangers, Canucks and Wild would be in the playoffs, while the Blue Jackets, Predators and Flames would be out. The wildcard races would still be very close in points with Carolina narrowly edging out Florida, based on same points in fewer games.

Calgary plummeted down the standings, due to having six wins in the shootout. Those wins turned into ties and they lost six points there and another six from their six OT losses. Their 25 regulation wins are 11th in the west and their 30 regulation/OT wins are 10th.

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I fully recognize that teams might have played differently had these rules been in place prior, but we don’t know to what extent, and I was curious to see how different the standings would look.

THREE POINT FOR WINS…

I’ve read many pumping the virtues of the three-points-for-a-win format. Under that format, every game has three points available. Three points for a regulation win. Two for a win in OT/SO, none for a regulation loss and one point for a loss in OT/SO.

Again, maybe teams would play differently if these rules were in place — we will never know — but here is how the standings would look if we implemented the 3-2-0-1 point system.

Interesting to note the results for this system would be the same as the simple W-L-T format. Teams would have more points, but the races would still be close.

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And again, Calgary, Nashville and Columbus would be out of the playoffs, while Vancouver, Minnesota and the New York Rangers would be in. The other small difference is that Colorado would be ahead of St.Louis. And for fun, if you went off P%, then Florida would knock out Toronto.

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This season it is clear that the current point allocation is rewarding teams who can’t win in regulation, but find ways to win in the shootout or loss in OT/SO and gain the trusty “Bettman point.”

Would you like to see the NHL change their format?

There really isn’t any difference in the standings between the 3-2-0-1 format and the 2-0-1 format. The same teams make it, there is just more separation in point totals.

If I was commissioner I would go to the 2-0-1 format and abolish the shootout. Yes, there would be ties, but the emphasis on winning hockey games, not a skills competition, is more important for me.

If you ran the league, what system would you put in place, and why?

QUICK NOTE…

Starting today, and running for the next two weeks on my radio show on TSN 1260, we will have guests from the 1997 Oilers/Stars series on my show. Both members and coaches of the Stars and Oilers will join Jason Strudwick and me to talk about that Cinderella upset. I think you will enjoy it.

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