Rambling On Wild analyst Peter Ripka provides a thought-provoking look into how different point systems would impact the NHL standings. He ends with his thoughts on how to fix the overtime/shootout problem.
At this time of year, everyone always seems to be complaining about the NHL point system.
Currently, there's a two-point system for regulation games and then a three-point game for any that go into to overtime or a shootout.
This had me intrigued, so I looked at the standings as the stand on March sixth. Keep in mind that this is slightly different than the current standings.
First, we will look at how each teams points look with the current system, awarding two points for a win in regulation/overtime/shootout, and one point for an overtime/shootout loss.
Division leaders are highlighted in yellow and wild card teams are highlighted in green. Also keep in mind that these are not the official NHL standings, which account for the tie breakers as set by the NHL guidelines. I focus on teams that have an equal amount of points. The only tie breaker used is the amount of games played.
The tightness of the standings changes slightly from the current system to the two-only system. With the spread getting smaller in the West and nominally bigger in the East, the biggest change we see is in the three-point system, with both Conferences being separated by a significant amount of total points than the were before. To put it into perspective of regulation wins that separate the top from the bottom, the East saw a 10.5 win separation increase and the West saw a five win separation increase.
In retrospect, I was actually surprised by the results of this exercise. I expected the three-point system would make the standings tight. In fact, it actually made the standings more separated.
Taking this crude data into consideration, fans that complain about the current point system or when three-point games happen don’t really have much to data to base these claims on.
Ultimately, this is what the NHL should do to make their point system better.
The biggest thing that I believe the NHL needs to address in its system is how the determine a winner.
Do away with the shootout, it has become a mockery of the game.
The three-on-three overtime, even though many traditionalist argue against it, is a much better way to determine the outcome of a game. Play continues overtime at three-on-three until a team wins.
If you don’t want run into the possibility of a game running a long time, you can simple play one five or ten minute overtime period at and if no winner is determines the game is a tie and both teams only receive one point and no “bonus” point is awarded for the overtime win.
There are a lot of arguments on all sides, but I believe this would be exciting, keep the integrity of the game, and be the most fair.
Peter Ripka is the original Rambling On podcast co-host and has been a contributor since its inception. He’s currently a Wild and Twins analyst, a position he’s held for several years. A Wild and Twins season ticket holder, his writing combines the passion of a fan and the insight of a beat writer.