Alternative NHL Standings: Life Without The Overtime Loss Point

One of the most head scratching decisions the NHL ever made was giving a point in the standings to a team that lost in overtime. Rewarding a loss makes no sense. No other sport gives the losing team a cookie for not winning a game.

The Chicago Blackhawks have racked up 13 points this season from losing hockey games. In the playoffs, when a team loses a game in overtime they don’t get rewarded with a consolation prize. They lose. Why shouldn’t the same rule apply in the regular season?

The NHL would be better off scrapping the points system and going to a straight win-loss format. However, shootouts make things a bit complicated. Awarding a team two whole points for winning a skills contest is absurd. So why not just give a shootout winner just one point? This would devalue shootout wins and give teams a greater sense of urgency to win in regulation.

So let’s introduce you to the logical NHL points system:

  • Two points for a regulation or overtime win.
  • One point for a shootout win.
  • Zilch for a loss of any kind.

Let’s apply these rules to this year’s standings:

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 1.19.44 PM


Teams in red are going to the playoffs. Teams in green are the wild card teams. The table shows that nothing really happens in the Metropolitan and Pacific divisions. However, there is a huge shake up in the Central. The Blackhawks would all of a sudden be a third place team in their own division and not even be able to host a first round playoff series.

Meanwhile, Toronto, who has a whopping nine shootout wins this season, would fall to fourth in their division. They would still make the playoffs as a wild card team.

Every team that would make the playoffs in the current format would still make it in the new format. However, there would be a few shakeups in terms of seeding. That means a lot in the playoffs because it determines home ice advantage.

Once again, this system works better because it devalues the shootout and doesn’t reward teams for losing in overtime. It’s a true indicator of which teams are stronger than others and from the looks of it, Chicago might not be as good as many people think.



About andrekhatch

Red Sox. Cowboys. Lakers. Penguins. USC.
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