Ties Suck, Go For The Win

It’s like kissing your sister. This is usually how someone describes a game ending in a tie. To some people not losing is winning, to a coach it’s everything. You can breakdown the positives and negatives about someone based on “watching the tape” or “because he’s got a head for the game”, but in the end we’ll still be hearing about numbers. Wins and losses are the two sexy numbers that get thrown around, and with good reason. Lets face it at the end of the day a win is exactly that, a win. The last time I checked the teams that win the most games tend to get into the playoffs. I throw the words “tend to” because the NHL isn’t as simple as winning and losing, that’s where a kiss from your sister comes into play.

A game can’t end in a tie, because then you would be sending the wrong message, mainly that it’s okay to kiss your sister. When the score is tied at the end of regulation the NHL decided that and extra period of hockey is needed. Now, prior to lockout II in 2005 (side note: once you hit three it’s fine to use Roman Numerals) the league played five minutes of extra time, if no one scored then the two teams that night were considered equal and they split the game with a point each in the standings. Then the league stopped everyone from coming to work for a year and when everything was sorted out they decided that the game needed a bit more, well for lack of a better word, Pizazz.

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Look at all the Pizazz on my face! You know where they appreciate Pizazz? Boston, no Pittsburgh. Wait, I meant Boston

This is how the shootout was introduced to the game. The fans loved it because it was new and exciting. The league loved it because the fans watched it…and the definitive winner thing too. The players loved it because it took a 65 minute game and boiled it down to who can score on a penalty shot. Okay, maybe the players didn’t love it, but you can’t argue with the fact that games now had a definitive winner. There was just one problem, the NHL was too nice (please note this is a rarity).

When a game goes to an additional period, the teams involved would get a point. If a team won they would earn an additional point. This upset the balance of the game from a mathematical perspective (damn you, Math). A game that was normally worth two points magically became a three point game once you entered the extra frame. The league being the nice guys that they are determined that if you played three periods and didn’t lose, then how can you not be rewarded? Hence the extra point. Although they were nice the NHL wasn’t the smartest group because now they told everyone “if you beat somebody in overtime or a skills competition, then you will be credited the same amount of points as if you won the game in regulation, they way it’s supposed to be won”.

What the hell does this have to do with coaches and win-loss records? Well, lets just say that overtime gives you an out for losing. If you have to decide between winning in regulation or winning in overtime it doesn’t matter unless the team your playing is in division or if you’re chasing them in the standings. Even then it only weighs on a team when the playoff picture begins to take shape. In a tie game with under five to go in the third, a coach can play for the tie and guarantee a point for the club and then try to win it in overtime, thus obtaining the same amount of points as winning in regulation. The only difference is that if he tries to win it in regulation and gives up a goal, taking a loss the club get zero. One is better than none. It’s a safer play to go to overtime when you have the chance then it is to play for a regulation win. On top of that teams then think that they have a better chance at winning in a shootout so they play OT in survival mode and not as a hunter looking for a kill. This is why there have been an increase in overtime and shootouts over the years. There’s just no real benefit to win a game in regulation.

This is why the NHL needs to go to a 3-point game value. It’s a very simple concept, and it’s not new by any means. International hockey does it. Hell, even soccer, the globalist of sports uses it. The way it works is that if you win the game in regulation then you get three points. you win it in overtime you only get two and if you lose in overtime you get one. HOW HARD IS THAT!?!?! First off, a game has the same amount of points awarded no matter what the outcome, Math is happy. Secondly, it encourages a team to win in the three period time frame. Where one is better than none, three is better than two is better than one is better than none. It’s so simple. I know what your wondering, would this point system affect the league standings if we were to use it as of today? Good news, I did that leg work so you don’t have to, behold.

 Team Conference Division  GP Reg W Total W OTW  L  OTL 2 point win 3 point win
1 BOSTON EASTERN ATLANTIC 67 39 45 6 17 5 95 134
2 MONTREAL EASTERN ATLANTIC 69 26 37 11 25 7 81 107
3 TAMPA BAY EASTERN ATLANTIC 67 25 36 11 24 7 79 104
 Team Conference Division  GP Reg W Total W OTW  L  OTL 2 point win 3 point win
1 PITTSBURGH EASTERN METRO 67 36 44 8 19 4 92 128
2 NY RANGERS EASTERN METRO 69 31 36 5 29 4 76 107
3 PHILADELPHIA EASTERN METRO 67 30 35 5 25 7 77 107
1 COLUMBUS EASTERN METRO 67 29 35 6 26 6 76 105
2 TORONTO EASTERN ATLANTIC 69 23 36 13 25 8 80 103
3 DETROIT EASTERN ATLANTIC 67 22 30 8 24 13 73 95
4 WASHINGTON EASTERN METRO 69 20 32 12 27 10 74 94
5 OTTAWA EASTERN ATLANTIC 67 22 28 6 26 13 69 91
6 NEW JERSEY EASTERN METRO 68 21 29 8 26 13 71 92
7 CAROLINA EASTERN METRO 68 24 29 5 30 9 67 91
8 NY ISLANDERS EASTERN METRO 69 16 26 10 34 9 61 77
9 FLORIDA EASTERN ATLANTIC 68 18 25 7 35 8 58 76
10 BUFFALO EASTERN ATLANTIC 68 10 19 9 41 8 46 56
 Team Conference Division  GP Reg W Total W OTW  L  OTL 2 point win 3 point win
1 ST LOUIS WESTERN CENTRAL 67 35 46 11 14 7 99 134
5 COLORADO WESTERN CENTRAL 68 33 44 11 19 5 93 126
7 CHICAGO WESTERN CENTRAL 68 34 39 5 15 14 92 126
 Team Conference Division  GP Reg W Total W OTW  L  OTL 2 point win 3 point win
2 ANAHEIM WESTERN PACIFIC 68 38 45 7 16 7 97 135
3 SAN JOSE WESTERN PACIFIC 69 31 45 14 17 7 97 128
8 LOS ANGELES WESTERN PACIFIC 68 28 38 10 24 6 82 110
13 MINNESOTA WESTERN CENTRAL 67 26 35 9 22 10 80 106
16 DALLAS WESTERN CENTRAL 67 27 32 5 24 11 75 102
17 PHOENIX WESTERN PACIFIC 68 24 32 8 25 11 75 99
23 NASHVILLE WESTERN CENTRAL 68 25 29 4 29 10 68 93
20 WINNIPEG WESTERN CENTRAL 69 21 31 10 29 9 71 92
19 VANCOUVER WESTERN PACIFIC 70 20 31 11 29 10 72 92
26 CALGARY WESTERN PACIFIC 68 15 27 12 34 7 61 76
29 EDMONTON WESTERN PACIFIC 69 17 24 7 36 9 57 74

2 point win = current system                              3 point win = new system

What does this all mean? Well, if you take a look at the current standings you see that the actual playoff teams wouldn’t change. The eight teams from each conference would stay the same just the seeding would be altered. The biggest change would be in the favour of the Rangers seeing how they don’t go to overtime a lot. Instead of being a wild card team they jump into their divisional berth. The bad news is that for the Jets they would be a worse team. Instead of being four points (2 wins) back of eighth they would be 10 (3+ wins).

We don’t know how the league would be different if there was more incentive to win in regulation. Yet you would find it hard to bet against more games ending in three periods than four. And isn’t that the point, to get more points?

 

 

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