What the standings might have been


(Note: This post was written prior to the completion of the Saturday afternoon games. The standings reflect this, so it’s not totally accurate based on when you read it. Still, you get the idea.)

I really, really, really can’t stand the NHL’s “lucky loser” point. If you win, you win. If you lose, you lose. You shouldn’t reward any team for losing. You want to keep shootouts so that there are no ties? Fine. I have no problem with that. If you do that, however, I’d recommend this system (mentioned on my blog before):

2 points for a regulation win
2 points for an overtime win
1 point for a shootout win
0 points for any type of loss

The idea is to play with urgency throughout regulation and overtime with the shootout being the last resort. If you don’t want teams to play for the shootout — that is, to avoid teams that are good at shootouts playing in a defensive shell for the third and OT — then you simply devalue it. If a team really needs points to climb up in the standings, then they should have to push the pace in regulation, then overtime. There’s no reason why they should be rewarded for going to a shootout.

With that in mind, let’s look at the NHL standings as of 6 PM PST in Mike Chen’s standings system.

The real-world Eastern standings:

Rank Team Points (L = OT/SO loss, W = SO win)
1 x-Buffalo 107 7L 10W
2 x-New Jersey 100 8L 9W
3 * Atlanta 93 11L 6W
4 x-Ottawa 100 8L 2W
5 x-Pittsburgh 100 10L 10W
6 Tampa Bay 88 4L 10W
7 NY Rangers 87 9L 9W
8 Montreal 86 6L 6W
9 Toronto 85 11L 4W
10 NY Islanders 84 12L 6W
11 Carolina 84 8L 0W
12 Florida 82 14L 2W

Adjusted to my standings system:

Rank Team Points (L = OT/SO loss, W = SO win)
1 *Buffalo 90 7L 10W
2 *Ottawa 90 8L 2W
3 *Carolina 76 8L 0W
4 New Jersey 83 8L 9W
5 Pittsburgh 80 10L 10W
6 Atlanta 76 11L 6W
7 Montreal 74 6L 6W
8 Tampa Bay 74 4L 10W
9 Toronto 70 11L 4W
10 NY Rangers 69 9L 9W
11 Florida 66 14L 2W
12 NY Islanders 66 12L 6W

What’s different here? Well, the Hurricanes, who have no shootout wins, vault into third place by not having any point penalties with shootout wins. The Penguins (20 points) and the Devils (17 points) are still pretty much neck and neck for the Atlantic Division lead; however, the Sens and Sabres become the elite of the East. As for those scrapping for eighth place, it’s not nearly the logjam that you currently see, as the Lightning have a small, but semi-comfortable lead over the rest of the pack. The Rangers, who lose 18 points, fall quite a bit from a comfortable spot to just out of playoff reach.

Let’s look at the Western standings.

In the real world:

Rank Team Points (L = OT/SO loss, W = SO win)
1 *Detroit 106 12L 2W
2 *Anaheim 104 12L 4W
3 *Vancouver 101 7L 5W
4 Nashville 105 7L 6W
5 Dallas 100 6L 8W
6 San Jose 100 4L 1W
7 Minnesota 98 8L 10W
8 Calgary 94 10L 3W
9 Colorado 89 7L 5W

With my standings system:

Rank Team Points (L = OT/SO loss, W = SO win)
1 *San Jose 95 4L 1W
2 *Detroit 92 12L 2W
3 *Vancouver 89 7L 5W
4 Nashville 92 7L 6W
5 Anaheim 88 12L 4W
6 Dallas 86 6L 8W
7 Calgary 81 10L 3W
8 Minnesota 80 8L 10W
9 Colorado 77 7L 5W

Now, things have really changed. The Sharks, who’ve hardly gone to overtime this year, let alone any shootouts, rocket to the top of the entire league. Detroit and Nashville remain neck and neck, but Vancouver’s hold on the Northwest Division grows bigger. Anaheim and Dallas don’t seem quite as impressive, and Colorado’s caught up a little bit in the standings.

So, what can we learn with all this? If you’re looking at the team that most decisively puts away their team in regulation or overtime, that would be the San Jose Sharks (good for my Sharks season tickets in section 205!). Come playoff time, when there’s no loser point and no shootouts, this might give a better indicator as to who is the most armed and ready to tackle the post-season.

Lesson Two: Look at how many points teams get FOR LOSING and for winning a skills competition. Going to a system like this simply stops rewarding this level of mediocrity and puts the focus squarely on what matters — winning a team game.


4 Responses to “What the standings might have been”

  1. 1 OddyOh

    Yup…once again, I couldn’t agree more. Rewarding points for essentially losing games is stupid.

  2. 2 Earl Sleek

    You know what, I tend to disagree with this stuff, but I do like what you did discounting shootout wins.

    Rewarding points for essentially losing games is stupid.

    OK, what’s stupid here? Giving a team a point for playing 60 minutes of even 5-on-5, something that will be characteristic of the playoffs, or giving a team a point for winning a 1-on-0 shootout that will not be used in the postseason?

    The points I’d get rid of first are shootout wins–what good does it do for the playoffs to reward the best shootout teams in a contest that will feature zero shootouts?

    5-on-5 hockey, on the other hand, will be a feature. I can stand behind the 60-minute point much more than I can stand behind the real bonus point–pretending shootout success means a “win”.


    1) Excellant post!! We love the idea of eliminating the silly rewarding of losing and also reduce the reward for shoot out wins.
    2) We have been on board with this for quite a while. http://newfaux.blogspot.com/2007/03/stop-rewarding-of-losers.html#links
    3) We take this idea one step further offering the idea that they should eliminate the rewarding of losing teams in the June draft.

  4. 4 Itlan

    Check out my Point System Calculator. Does exactly the same thing but also allows you to try out other point values. My favorite is 500 points for W, 375 points for OTW, and 125 points for SOW. How about a 30,000 point season!?

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