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Saturday December 12, 2009 12:52 pm

Overtime points are ruining the NHL

Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: NHL,

Milan MichalekGoing into Saturday’s NHL games, the standings were what they were thanks in large part to the overtime and shootout loss points given to teams, which are basically the equivalent of the “participant” medal you got as a kid to not make you run home crying after getting last place in the school race. These points are ridiculous. A team wins a game and gets two points, but when a team loses after regulation play, they get a pity-point and make it difficult for those actually winning the games to rise in the standings. The Tampa Bay Lightning, with 31 overall points, have nine overtime/shootout points. Almost a third of their points have come in games in which they were the losing team. But what happens if you remove these “thanks for showing up” points from the equation?

Perhaps the most important change is that both first-place teams lose their position. In the east, The Washington Capitals’ 46 points becomes 40, and they fall to second behind the New Jersey Devils, who end up with 42 points. The damage in the west is much worse, as the San Jose Sharks’ 45 points becomes 38, and they crash all the way to fourth because division rival Los Angeles Kings would only lose three points, ending up with 40. This is incredibly significant, because if the playoffs started today, instead of playing the eighth seed, San Jose would play the fifth, and history shows that there is much more pressure on the Sharks in that situation.

While most teams do switch one or two positions, up or down, the team that takes the biggest hit is the Dallas Stars. Their nine overtime/shootout losses currently lift them to eighth place in the west, but disregarding those bonus points drops them all the way 13th and six points out of a playoff spot. The only team in the league without one of these extra points is the Vancouver Canucks. If all of the other teams gave their points back, the Canucks would rise from tenth to eighth.

Overall, only 10 of the 30 teams would hold steady in their current spots, and amazingly enough, five of those spots belong to the basement dwellers. The bottom three in the east (Islanders, Leafs and ‘Canes) as well as the last two in the west (Blues and Ducks) would not shift positions. It seems that the worst teams in the league know how to lose. They don’t waste time doing it, and they certainly do it well.



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