Going All the Way
So the New York Rangers blow a two-goal lead on home ice to the Atlanta Thrashers on Sunday night, take a bad penalty in OT and lose on Marc Savard's gorgeous wrist shot over the right shoulder of Henrik Lundqvist.
And still get a point for it. The Rangers screwed up royally and still gained a point on the Flyers atop the Atlantic Division.
It was the perfect example of the ongoing pointlessness of the NHL point system, which continues to reward teams for losing.
Yep, let's get in there and lose one for the Gipper, guys.
It's the only one of the four major sports that gives points for losing, and it's time to change that.
After all, it's clear from looking at the NHL standings today that taking out the point for losing in overtime or in a shootout would, essentially, have little or no meaningful impact on those standings.
If the NHL had only wins or losses, there would only a handful of changes to the standings, and they wouldn't be big ones.
The standings in the Eastern Conference would read:
1. Ottawa (86 points) 2. Carolina (86) 3. Rangers (72, 3rd by virtue of leading their division) 4. Buffalo (84) 5. Philadelphia (70) 6. New Jersey (66) 7. Tampa Bay (66) 8. Montreal (62) 9. Atlanta (62) 10. Islanders (60) 11. Toronto (58) 12. Florida (52) 13. Boston (50) 14. Washington (44) 15. Pittsburgh (32).
The same teams would be in possession of playoff berths, and the spacing between teams would remain almost exactly the same, creating the same race for the seventh and eighth playoff berths.
The only changes would be at the top, where Ottawa and Carolina would be tied for first, rather than separated by one point with the Hurricanes on top, and at the No. 7 slot, where Tampa would sit four points ahead of Montreal. The Leafs would be
eight four points out of the eighth and final playoff spot, rather than six.
Hardly a drastic change, huh? Point totals make much for sense in relation to games played, and being a .500 team would actually mean something again.
In the Western Conference, the standings would read:
1. Detroit (88) 2. Dallas (84) 3. Colorado (74) 4. Nashville (74) 5. Calgary (72) 6. Los Angeles (72) 7. Vancouver (70) 8. Edmonton (64) 9. Anaheim (62) 10. Minnesota (62) 11. San Jose (60) 12. Phoenix (58) 13. Columbus (52) 14. Chicago (40) 15. St. Louis (38)
The only changes compared to the current NHL standings would have Edmonton in eighth place, two points ahead of Anaheim, Minnesota in 10th place ahead of San Jose and Chicago two points ahead of St. Louis in the Western Conference basement.
Otherwise, everything would be the same, and the spacing between teams would be basically the same. Getting rid of rewarding OT losses and shootout losses with a point would have the added benefit of stopping home team announcers from tying themselves in knots trying to argue that their team didn't lose a game in OT or a shootout, but rather the opposition picked up a bonus point.
Everytime you hear that rationale, it is to laugh at the limitless capacity for shilling that exists on NHL home team broadcasts.
Other than pacifying losers, there is no logical, rational or mathematical reason for the NHL not to go to a simple win/loss system.
This other stuff just distorts the true value of results, giving undue credit to teams incapable of winning games and penalizing teams that are able to produce victory in regular, OT or the shootout. in the west, for example, Dallas has a 13-point lead over eighth place Anaheim despite losing 10 fewer games.
In a win-or-lose system, the Stars would have a 22-point lead, much more reflective of their superior play and excellence in shootouts. The current system simply rewards the Ducks for being weak in OT and shootouts.
So far Pittsburgh and Anaheim have 12 points from OT or shootout losses they otherwise would not have. St. Louis has 11, while the Rangers, Flyers,Bruins and Oilers have 10 each.
A win should be a win, a loss should be a loss. Simple.