Points are for losers

lexrageorge

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Jul 31, 2007
11,418
The discussion about the "loser point" in the NHL Game Thread got me wondering how the standings would change based on other systems that either have been in place or could be in place. Below are the standings for the playoff qualifiers in the Eastern Conference if the season were to end today.
TodayO6Old OTOT33A3BNCIH
WashWashWashWashWashWashWash
ColumubsColumbusColumbusColumbusColumbusColumbusColumbus
PittPittPittPittPittPittPitt (tie)
NYRNYRNYRNYRNYRNYRNYR (tie)
HabsHabsHabsHabsHabsHabsHabs
OttawaOttawaB'sLeafsB'sOttawaOttawa
LeafsB'sOttawaOttawaOttawaB'sB's
B'sLeafsLeafsB'sLeafsLeafsTampa


Some note on the various systems:

Today: The system in use today, in which the Leafs benefit from getting 15 loser points, which seems to be enough to ensconce them comfortably in 3rd place in the Atlantic Division. In order to put the griping in perspective, it should be noted that the Leafs are an unlucky 1-8 in the gimmick.

O6: As implies, it was the system in use back when we were kids and hockey games were 60 minutes. Period. And only 2 points could be divided among the teams. The Bruins benefit from 5 more regulation wins than the Leafs. More importantly, the Bruins would have a nice 4 point lead over Carolina, 5 over the Isles, and Tampa would be nearly eliminated, sitting 7 points out of a playoff spot. About 1 in 4 games would result in ties in this system, btw.

Old OT: The system that was implemented in 1983 with the single 5-minute OT. No points for losses, 1 point for a tie. Ottawa's 5-2 record in the shootout would cost them enough points to allow the Bruins to leapfrog all the way to 6th, one point above both Ottawa and Toronto. Boston would have a nice 7 point cushion over Tampa. The 3-on-3 OT is definitely working, as only about 8% of games have ended in a shootout this year.

OT3: That infamous system in place from 1999 until the lockout: 2 points for a win, 1 point for a tie or loss in OT, and 0 for a regulation loss. The theory was that teams would push harder for a win in OT; not sure if it worked, but it did make the standings indecipherable. And it also marked the advent of that damned 3 point game. The Leafs would still benefit with 9 ties and 7 OT losses, so the Bruins would be back in 8th with a narrow 4 point lead over the Islanders and Hurricanes and 5 over the Lightning.

3A: In this proposed system, all hockey games are worth 3 points. A team that wins in regulation or OT earns all 3 points. A shootout nets the winner 2 points and the loser 1. With the greater emphasis on regulation or OT wins, the Bruins would be in 6th (tied with Ottawa in points), 5 points ahead of the Leafs. The Lightning (5 points behind Toronto), Islanders (7), Carolina (9), and even the Flyers (8) would be in contention for that final playoff spot.

3B: Another division of 3 points, except that OT wins earn only 2 points, with the loser getting 1. This would put the Bruins 4 points ahead of Toronto. Tampa, Islanders, and Carolina would all be in striking distance, 4 points behind Toronto. The Flyers fall out of contention, thanks to the fact that the Islanders and Hurricanes earn 12 and 14 loser points in this system.

NCIH: No Crying in Hockey. Just like NBA, NFL, and MLB, a win is a win, and a loss is a loss. Tampa's 37 wins puts them in over Toronto and Philly (36 wins each). NY and Carolina are close (1 and 2 games behind).

FYI, last year's Bruins team would have made the playoffs as the 3rd Atlantic Division team (7 seed) under the O6, 3B, and NCIH systems.
 

The Long Tater

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Aug 1, 2001
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And now for the subjective discussion. What do you like to watch? And why?

I actually enjoy the current format. Trying to win in regulation matters, particularly in division games, because it denies your opponent points. But, if that doesn't work, the 3 on 3 is just fun with lots of action. And the shootout? My kids like it.

Alternate opinions respected. With 82 games it is pretty likely that the best teams will finish on top. It is only at the bottom margin that a tweak of the system could get a different result.
 

MiracleOfO2704

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Jul 12, 2005
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The Island
Alternate opinions respected. With 82 games it is pretty likely that the best teams will finish on top. It is only at the bottom margin that a tweak of the system could get a different result.
This isn't that insignificant. In the last 12 seasons, the NHL has seen two last-teams-in (2006 Oilers, 2012 Kings) make the Stanley Cup Final, with the Kings winning. Sometimes, just getting in is good enough, and the idea that a 45-35-2 team is worse than a 40-29-13 team seems a little off.
 

timlinin8th

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Jun 6, 2009
1,521
Trying to win in regulation matters, particularly in division games, because it denies your opponent points.
Here is where I would disagree. I have watched plenty of games where it was tied nearing the end of the third period where one team (or sometimes both) goes into ultra-conservative mode out of fear that they would lose in regulation and get NO points, so they play not to lose instead of playing to win.

Trying to deny the other team points only goes so far. Divisional opponent and the standings are close? Sure. If a team is playing another one that is out of the running though, or a non-divisional opponent who is already clinched where giving up a loser point would make no difference? Its conservative time, and especially at the end of the season when you want to watch playoff-style hockey its jarring.

I'd personally prefer to see NCIH and ditch points all together, but since that won't happen have to give a tangible reward for winning in regulation, and the obvious answer is to make every game worth three points and give a regulation winner all three.