Time For The NHL To Revamp The Points Attribution

By JD Lagrange – We are hearing more and more that the NHL has had it with the shootout gimmick and many NHL Executives would like to see it gone. The fact that the three-on-three overtime has provided winners and, as importantly, entertainment value for the fans, is a reason why they feel the shootout has lost its appeal. That and I’ve personally always felt like it was a mistake to start with, as it would be like the NFL having quarterbacks throw balls through hoops, the NBA with free throws or MLB ending games with a homerun derby to decide on a winner. Those are skills competitions. At least the three-on-three in the NHL is still a team game.

The NHL’s masterminds knew that already though, as they’re not using it when it really matters: determining the standings in case of ties. That’s right. They are not counting shootout wins in their tie-breakers calculations, having instead created a ROW (regulation and overtime wins) column in the standings, which they use to establish positions when teams are tied in points. So why even have it a shootout to start with?

For over 25 years, I was living in Penticton, BC, watching the BCHL and they had a format that I felt worked very well. For those not familiar with the BCHL, it’s known across Canada as the best Junior A league in the country, one level down from the CHL. If the game was tied after 60 minutes of play, they would play five minutes at four-on-four. If still tied, then they would go to three-on-three sudden death OT. If no team scored after the two overtime, it was a good old tie game with each team earning a point. I did the research several years ago and over a 5-year period, less than 2% of all games ended in a tie. Over an 82-games season, that’s averaging 2-3 tie games per team per season!

New points system

As the NHL isn’t even giving a second thought to shootouts when it matters, why not revamp the points system? And no, I’m not talking three points for a win as some would like to see. As a good old traditionalist, I personally can’t stand that option. No, let’s go simpler than that. If a team wins, whether it’s in regulation or overtime, give them two points, as they do now. But do not give the losing team a “loser point”.

Right now, after the three-on-three overtime, they do what we call a “dry scrape” with the Zambonis, which is the same as resurfacing but without water. That takes a lot of time. Then the shootout also takes a lot of time. Instead of doing all of that, they should do one of the following two options:

1- 5 minutes 4 on 4, then 5 minutes 3 on 3 sudden death OT. Here, you have a couple of options. You can have a buzzer after five minutes like at the end of a period, or you wait until the next stoppage in play after the first five minutes and then, you start the three-on-three. In that second option, the three-on-three would start with whatever time is left to the 10 minutes overtime.

2- 10 minutes 3 on 3. Pretty self explanatory isn’t it? This could force teams to utilize more players during OT which would then have the potential of creating situations with some more uneven matchups.

In both cases, if the game is tied after the OT, each team earns a point and believe me from experience, fans will go home entertained, as the last ten minutes alone will be worth the price of admission.

New 2021-2022 standings

Keeping in mind that teams played only five minutes of overtime, then went to a shootout, here’s what the NHL standings would have looked like by removing the extra point for shootout win and giving each team a point for a tie instead. As we’ve just touched on recently, let’s go with the Conference standings for playoffs’ matchups, forgetting divisions.

RANKTEAMWLTPTSTODAY
1-55189119122 (1)
2-53209115116 (2)
3-512110112115 (3)
4-492310108110 (5)
5-482410106110 (4)
6-49267105107 (6)
7-432514100103 (7)
8-39261795100 (8)
9-3535128284 (9)
10-3338117781 (10)
11-2939147275 (11)
12-2940137174 (12)
13-3042107073 (13)
14-2446126063 (14)
15-2446126061 (15)
16-1949145255 (16)
RANKTEAMWLTPTSTODAY
1-521911115119 (1)
2-482113109111 (3)
3-482212108113 (2)
4-472213107109 (4)
5-44271199104 (5)
6-4027159599 (6)
7-4130119398 (7)
8-4130119397 (8)
9-3931129094 (9)
10-3730158992 (10)
11-3732138789 (11)
12-2937167477 (12)
13-2737187276 (13)
14-2242186268 (14)
15-244995760 (15)
16-245085657 (16)

As you can see, there are not many differences in points and in the standings. With longer OT, the number of ties would be cut drastically, also adding to the win column for teams winning those games.

Playoffs picture

So the playoffs would look as follows. On the left, the current playoffs’ matchups. On the right, what it would be with the new points attribution, based on 1 vs 8, 2 vs 7, etc… in each conference.

(8)@(1)|(8)@(1)
(6)@(2)|(7)@(2)
(5)@(3)|(6)@(3)
(7)@(4)|(5)@(4)
(8)@(1)|(8)@(1)
(4)@(2)|(7)@(2)
(7)@(3)|(6)@(3)
(6)@(4)|(5)@(4)

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Playoffs Match-Ups: Changes Are Overdue

By JD Lagrange – The 2021-2022 season’s NHL Playoffs are well underway and there are some very interesting matchups happening in the first round. Playoffs’ hockey is so much more interesting but unfortunately, the experience has been tarnished by poor officiating and questionable decisions by the NHL Players Safety. But that’s on par with the regular season and it’s a whole different topic in itself.

Every year, with the way the playoffs’ format is structured, we see some mind boggling matchups. We see higher up teams having to face tougher competition than teams that finished below them in the standings. This year, he are the final matchups for the first round of the playoffs. In brackets is where the teams finished in the overall NHL standings.

TEAMOVERALLTEAMOVERALL
(13)@(1)
(16)@(2)
(10)@(3)
(8)@(4)
(9)@(5)
(15)@(6)
(12)@(7)
(14)@(11)

The Florida Panthers won the Presidents’ Trophy yet, it’s the Colorado Avalanche facing the weaker team in the playoffs. The Toronto Maple Leafs finished fourth overall and as a reward, they are playing the team that finished eight overall. The Wild, the Flames, the Rangers and the Oilers are all facing teams that finished lower than the Leafs’ opponents. As much as I dislike Toronto, this makes no sense.

For years, I’ve been a proponent of changing the playoffs’ format in an attempt to fix this. Let’s face it, the NHL came up with that format back when they put a bigger emphasis on creating rivalries from within divisions, back when they made them play more often against each others. But they changed that scheduling when fans (and teams) demanded for each team to play each other at least twice in a season. So the divisions really don’t mean much anymore anyway.

I can only see two other options to make things more fair. Either revert back to the top team playing the bottom team regardless of conference, or if travel is important, rank teams based on their standings within the conference.

League-wide standings

If they played 1 vs 16, 2 vs 15, etc… here’s what the matchups would have looked like for this year’s playoffs. On the left are the current matchups, on the right, the league-wide matchups based on overall standings.

OAOAOAOA
(13)@(1)|(16)@(1)
(16)@(2)|(15)@(2)
(10)@(3)|(14)@(3)
(8)@(4)|(13)@(4)
(9)@(5)|(12)@(5)
(15)@(6)|(11)@(6)
(12)@(7)|(10)@(7)
(14)@(11)|(9)@(8)

In the new format, Carolina and Los Angeles would be piling on the airmiles for sure, but the travel for the other teams isn’t too bad. That being said, it is important to note that four of the far western coastal teams are not in the playoffs this year. Vancouver, Seattle, Anaheim and San Jose are out, as is Winnipeg in the north. The potential for extra travel is substantial and a top team could be at a disadvantage by traveling more, even to face a weaker team.

Conference standings

Perhaps the happy medium would be to revert back to the conference standings and drop the divisions for playoffs’ purposes. I would even go further by dropping the divisions, period, even for regular season. Here is this year’s playoffs’ picture if they played 1 vs 8, 2 vs 7, etc… within their own conferences. Again, this year’s matchups on the left.

(8)@(1)|(8)@(1)
(6)@(2)|(7)@(2)
(5)@(3)|(6)@(3)
(7)@(4)|(5)@(4)
(8)@(1)|(8)@(1)
(4)@(2)|(7)@(2)
(7)@(3)|(6)@(3)
(6)@(4)|(5)@(4)

The travel is no different than it is during the regular season yet, it makes for a more even playing field. Oh you will always have upsets in the first round, that will never change. Mostly, it gives the regular season, playing a gruelling 82-games schedule, mean more by providing a bit of a rewards for the playoffs. Perhaps it’s time for the NHL to take that step. In fact, they missed the boat by not doing it starting this year since the league now has an even 16 teams in each conference, with the arrival of Seattle into the NHL.

Watch for Part Two of this article as we will explore a different way of tallying regular season’s points, which would also have an impact on the playoffs’ matchups. Stay tuned…

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