The NHL should move to a 3-2-1-0 point system

In the eternal struggle for gaining fans, hockey has run into a few problems.  Most of them have been overcome through various rules changes, much to the chagrin of traditionalists.  The addition of the shootout and the trapezoid, and the removal of the two line pass restriction being the largest.  However, in doing all of these changes, largely the first one, the NHL has created a system which rewards teams going in to overtime.  In a game ending in regulation, two points are given, both to the winner, but in an overtime or shootout game, an additional point is given to the loser.  The merits of this can be debated, but the point of this was to not punish teams that could not be defeated within the normal time frame of the game.  The unintended consequence, especially when teams get into the playoff run (like, say, March) is that teams that are on the verge of the playoffs are incentivized to take a game into overtime, where the expected point return is 1.5 instead of 1.0.  Though teams are disincentivized by tiebreakers being determined off of the count of regulation plus overtime wins, this disincentive is largely toothless, given that it has only determined the final playoff seed twice in the past five years.

A smart team, holding on to a 1-1 tie game in the third, would be smart to play conservatively to assure an additional point, rather than attempt to win the game in regulation.

In an effort to cull this, our friends over in the KHL use the 3-2-1-0 points system.  Three points are awarded for a regulation win, two points for an overtime or shootout win, 1 point for an overtime or shootout loss, and 0 points for a regulation loss.  This assures that no games have more of a “point jackpot” than others, since all games are distributed three points to be split among the two teams playing.  This is a good idea, and would largely ensure that the most talented teams benefit from winning in 60 minutes of hockey.

Let’s take a look at the current standings (as of March 23rds games):

East:

Team
Reg wins
OT/SO wins
OT/SO losses
Reg losses
NHL Point system
Boston Bruins
43
6
5
17
103
Pittsburgh Penguins
37
9
5
20
97
Tampa Bay Lightning
28
11
8
24
86
Philadelphia Flyers
33
6
7
25
85
Montreal Canadiens
28
11
7
26
85
New York Rangers
34
5
4
29
82
Detroit Red Wings
24
9
14
24
80
Toronto Maple Leafs
23
13
8
29
80
Washington Capitals
21
13
11
27
79
Columbus Blue Jackets
30
6
6
29
78
New Jersey Devils
22
9
13
28
75
Carolina Hurricanes
27
5
9
33
73
Ottawa Senators
22
6
13
30
69
New York Islanders
17
10
9
35
63
Florida Panthers
19
7
8
38
60
Buffalo Sabres
12
9
8
43
50

West:

Team
Reg wins
OT/SO wins
OT/SO losses
Reg losses
NHL Point System
St. Louis Blues
37
11
7
16
103
San Jose Sharks
32
14
8
18
100
Anaheim Ducks
39
7
7
18
99
Chicago Blackhawks
36
5
15
16
97
Colorado Avalanche
33
11
6
21
94
Los Angeles Kings
29
11
6
25
86
Minnesota Wild
27
10
11
24
85
Phoenix Coyotes
26
8
11
26
79
Dallas Stars
28
5
11
26
77
Vancouver Canucks
22
11
10
30
76
Winnipeg Jets
21
11
9
31
73
Nashville Predators
27
4
10
31
72
Calgary Flames
17
12
7
35
65
Edmonton Oilers
18
7
9
38
59

With the 3 point system, we see quite a few changes:

Team
Reg wins
OT/SO wins
OT/SO losses
Reg losses
KHL point system
Ranking difference
Boston Bruins
43
6
5
17
146
0
Pittsburgh Penguins
37
9
5
20
134
0
Philadelphia Flyers
33
6
7
25
118
1
New York Rangers
34
5
4
29
116
2
Tampa Bay Lightning
28
11
8
24
114
-2
Montreal Canadiens
28
11
7
26
113
-2
Columbus Blue Jackets
30
6
6
29
108
3
Detroit Red Wings
24
9
14
24
104
-1
Toronto Maple Leafs
23
13
8
29
103
-2
Washington Capitals
21
13
11
27
100
-1
Carolina Hurricanes
27
5
9
33
100
2
New Jersey Devils
22
9
13
28
97
-1
Ottawa Senators
22
6
13
30
91
0
New York Islanders
17
10
9
35
80
0
Florida Panthers
19
7
8
38
79
0
Buffalo Sabres
12
9
8
43
62
0

And in the west:

Team
Reg wins
OT/SO wins
OT/SO losses
Reg losses
New point system
Ranking difference
St. Louis Blues
37
11
7
16
140
0
Anaheim Ducks
39
7
7
18
138
1
Chicago Blackhawks
36
5
15
16
133
1
San Jose Sharks
32
14
8
18
132
-2
Colorado Avalanche
33
11
6
21
127
0
Los Angeles Kings
29
11
6
25
115
0
Minnesota Wild
27
10
11
24
112
0
Phoenix Coyotes
26
8
11
26
105
0
Dallas Stars
28
5
11
26
105
1
Nashville Predators
27
4
10
31
99
2
Vancouver Canucks
22
11
10
30
98
-1
Winnipeg Jets
21
11
9
31
94
-1
Calgary Flames
17
12
7
35
82
0
Edmonton Oilers
18
7
9
38
77
0

This certainly reshuffles the deck.  Teams that have lived off of shootout wins like San Jose take a hit while teams that eke out wins in regulation like Columbus are rewarded.  Factoring in the additional opportunity to take three points from your division rival down the stretch, this could lead to much better hockey, while also helping somewhat rectify the “underdog phenomenon” we have seen in the hockey playoffs of the last few years, where we have seen 8th seeded teams that were much more capable (and ended up advancing) than their 5th, 6th, or 7th seed counterparts.

 

This seems like a common sense initiative in a sport that has done smart rule changes to attract additional fans.  Hopefully, we will see the NHL rules committee taking this up in the Summer of 2014, though I don’t see it very likely.