Should the NHL Tweak Its Point System?
Ever since the NHL introduced the rule of giving a point to the loser in overtime (and, later, a shootout), there has been talk about the inequity of some games being worth two points while others are worth three. It's led to some bizarre moments, including one that comes to mind in which Buffalo celebrated clinching a playoff spot with an overtime point -- before the extra session began. But should the NHL overhaul its system completely?
One of the more radical solutions would be borrowed from the world of soccer, as a win in regulation would be worth three points, an overtime or shootout win worth two points, and an overtime or shootout loss would still be worth one.
The reasoning behind this is that regulation wins should be worth more than a win in overtime or shootout, and teams would be less likely to be patient towards the end of regulation and settle for a point when they could add an extra point by finishing their opponent off in 60 minutes.
While this certainly would allow teams to obliterate points records (and also change the value of a win for the first time in league history), the league in the last few years has already seen some of its wins-based records fall, and Martin Brodeur will be crowned the new all-time leader in wins by a goaltender -- with the help of a couple dozen shootout victories that would have been ties otherwise.
So, how much different would the standings look with the revised system? Not that much.
The biggest change in the Eastern Conference playoff race would be a flip of the Devils and Capitals for the second and third seed in the conference, as New Jersey currently has 13 of their 42 wins in the extra session or shootout, while Washington only has eight in the extra session, meaning the Caps would hold a 118 to 116 point lead. The other change would involve the Rangers, who would fall out of the playoff picture into a ninth-place tie with Buffalo thanks to their 12 overtime/shootout wins, allowing Carolina to take the seventh seed and knocking the Penguins down to eighth.
Though incredibly tight, there would be zero change in the Western Conference playoff seeds, with the only change being Minnesota and Dallas flipping spots at nine and 10, but the top eight would remain exactly the same.
As for the President's Trophy Race, the Bruins would hold 132 points as of Monday morning (which would equal the NHL's best points mark with a month to go in the season), with a two-point edge over San Jose and three over Detroit.
So while the concept may seem a radical change, outside the points records, it really wouldn't alter the game that much to go to a three-point system, and perhaps would add some extra spice to the last couple of minutes where teams now just are content to play for the extra point rather than looking to end the game in regulation.
It's got little chance of passing, but probably is an idea whose time has come and could introduce some more exciting regulation finishes, encouraging teams to wrap games up in 60 minutes or less.