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NHL Points — Alternate Systems

This is the time of year when the NHL’s method of awarding points for victories and overtime losses comes under a lot of scrutiny. Also, with the World Juniors underway, their system also receives a lot of attention. So, I decided to do some analysis and see what would happen under various point systems, using today’s NHL standings and extrapolating them out over the course of the full season.

For the record, I am a big believer in consistency. A hockey game needs to have a given value, regardless of result, whether that be 2 points or 3 points. In my mind, it seems fairly obvious that a win achieved within the rule-prescribed 60 minutes of play is inherently more worthy than an win obtained in overtime or shootout. Similarly, a loss in overtime or shootout represents a better effort by the losing team than a loss in regulation. Therefore, I don’t object in theory to awarding points for OTL and SOL. I do object to having some games worth 3 points, and others 2 points. However, I also operate under the theory that the OTL points issue is not the major obstacle that many portray it being.

To test things out, I took all of the NHL team records as of last night, determined how many OT/SO wins each team had, then calculated their current points based upon three systems: Existing (2 Points Win, 1 Point OTL or SOL), World Juniors (3 Points Regulation Win, 2 Points OT/SO Win, 1 Point OT/SO Loss), Former NHL (2 Points Win, 1 Point Tie). I then divided the resulting points by the games played, and multiplied by 82 to get a projected year end total for each team in each system. I then ranked each team within its conference, using each point total, and allowing for the 1-2-3 seeds for the division champs.

Here are the results, using the Western Conference to highlight the differences, as they are more obvious in the West. (NOTE: I did not attempt to apply tiebreaking rules, so ranking at same score is effectively random)

Western ConferenceCurrent System (2 Pts Win, 1 Pt. OT/SO Loss)

(* denotes division champ)

1. San Jose 141 *
2. Detroit 119 *
3.
Calgary 105 *
4. Chicago 117
5. Vancouver 95
6.
Anaheim 93
7.
Edmonton 89
8.
Colorado 89
9. Phoenix 86
10. Nashville 84
11. Minnesota 84
12. Columbus 82
13. Dallas 82
14. Los Angeles 80
15. St. Louis 71

Western Conference — World Juniors System (3 Pts. Reg. Win, 2 Pts. OT/SO W, 1 Pt. OT/SO L)


1. San Jose 196 *
2. Detroit 159 *
3. Calgary 148*
4. Chicago 157
5. Vancouver 131
6. Anaheim 124
7. Phoenix 124
8. Edmonton 123
9. Minnesota 117
10. Colorado 114
11. Nashville 112
12. Columbus 109
13. Los Angeles 109
14. Dallas 108
15. St. Louis 89

Western Conference — Former NHL System (2 Pts. Win, 1 Pt. Tie)

1. San Jose 130*
2. Chicago 107*
3. Calgary 100*
4. Detroit 105
5. Vancouver 86
6. Phoenix 86
7. Anaheim 82
8. Edmonton 82
9. Minnesota 77
10. Los Angeles 75
11. Nashville 73
12. Columbus 73
13. Dallas 73
14. Colorado 71
15. St. Louis 57

As with most analysis, looking at the extremes is the most instructive. The impact is more clearly seen in the tightly packed West, where Colorado leads with 8 OT/SO wins. They fall from the 7/8 slots in the current system to 10th in the Juniors System and all the way to 14th in the former system. Conversely, Phoenix, who has 0 OT/SO wins, moves from 9th in the current system all the way to 6th under the former rules. Detroit fares better under the current system, while Chicago narrows the gap on the Wings under the Juniors system, and overtakes them under former rules.

Except for the extremes, there are few dramatic movements in placing between the various systems. Due to TV, spectator demand, and related considerations, it is unlikely that the NHL would ever move back to the tie. That basically leaves the current system or the Juniors system. I vote for the Juniors system, as it provides a consistent value for every game.

What do you think???

2 Comments

  1. goooooood girl

    December 31, 2008 at 12:45 am

    i like your blog……

  2. cbj1

    December 31, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    Never been a fan of some games being worth 2 while others are worth 3. That’s inconsistent and devalues a team’s win in regulation vs., say, a shootout. Go with the 3 point system, only problem is all the old point records will be thrown out the window.

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