Points for Losing

or “How Are You Ahead in the Standings with Three Fewer Wins?”

A guest post from Moishe:

I caught a few minutes of a discussion on XM Radio’s Hockey talk channel this morning. They were discussing possible revisions to the awarding of points in the standings. Which got me to thinking: From the outset, I have been fiercly opposed to the idea of introducing 3 points for a win, so that is a non-starter. At the same time, a point for losing always bothered me. Since last season, I always thought that a team losing in OT should receive no consolation point (and that 4 on 4 provided enough of an opportunity for a team gunning for a victory as opposed to settling for a shootout), but a team losing in a shootout should earn a consolation point, since it is unfair to so severely penalize a team for losing in the shootout competition.

However, another thought came to mind this morning, and I haven’t heard it suggested anywhere: Two points for a victory in regulation or OT. Zero points for a loss in regulation or OT. Should the game remain tied following OT, no points have yet to be gained or lost. At stake in the shootout is the same 1 point differential as is the case now, with the following distinction: the shootout winner receives 1 point for their night’s work; the loser receives zero.

Under this system, a true hockey victory earns two points, and a true hockey loss earns two less than the victor, or zero points. A shootout victory, which should not be rewarded in the same vein as a true victory, receives 1 point (this provides impetus – gunning for a second point – for teams to go for wins at the end of regulation and in OT, rather than settling for a shootout). A shootout loss, which should not create the same two-point differential as a loss in hockey play would, nonetheless deserves no merit, and thus earns no points for the shootout-losing team while only losing one to their competitor.

To those who would say it is unfair for a team that skates to a tie after regulation and OT (and subsequently loses in a shootout) not to have earned any points that night, I say: Make up your minds. Either the shootout is part of the game and has an impact on the standings, or take out the shootout altogether.

This all seems like a revelation and a great plan in my eyes…what do you think?

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One response to “Points for Losing

  1. When they started awarding three points for some games (two points to the winner, one point to an OT-loser), they threw off the historical comparisons. Because more points were awarded in a season, teams were setting new records for points. Although I’m only a marginal hockey fan, I’m a traditionalist and I’ve lamented this inability to compare present teams to past teams.

    Moishe’s idea makes a lot of sense for many reasons. However, one shortcoming in my mind is that it still doesn’t fix the problem of historical comparisons. Instead of three points being awarded for some games, this system will introduce the novelty of only one point being awarded under certain circumstances. To be sure, it does move in the right direction, since it will direct that in more games than before (indeed, most games), two points are awarded. But my preference would be a system that awards two points for every game, no matter how it ends.

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