It’s Time The NHL Changes The Points System

There are some things in the NHL that don’t make a lot of sense.  One of the biggest things that doesn’t make sense, is the current points system that the NHL uses.

You hear the same things from players when they are talking about that night’s game, “There is an important 2 points on the line.”  Yes, that’s true, the winning team does get 2 points.  That should mean 2 points are available for every game.  But every game that runs past regulation has 3 points split amongst the teams.  Both teams are guaranteed a point, no matter the outcome.

The losing team gets one point.  In other words, they are rewarded for the way they lose.  All they have to do is get the game past 60 minutes, and they get rewarded.  If losing teams get rewarded for how they lose, how come the same thing doesn’t happen for winning teams?  No matter how a team wins, they get 2 points.

Shouldn’t this work both ways?  Shouldn’t a team who wins their game in regulation get a bigger reward?  If the losing team can earn points based on how they lose, the same thing should happen for those who win.  It’s about time the NHL takes a serious look at this.  And all it will take is one major change to how points are rewarded.  That change?  Award the winning team 3 points for a regulation win, 2 points for any other win, 1 point for OT/shootout loss, and 0 points for a regulation loss.

The impact that this kind of change would have on the league is too good to pass up.  Let’s now look at 2 reasons why this kind of change would be good for the NHL.

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Hopefully, Gary Bettman will see the good in this kind of change. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)


NHL Games With More On The Line

Imagine for a second that your team is sitting tied at 2 late in the 3rd period.  Under the current system, most teams would settle for overtime, especially given that each team is then guaranteed a point.  In this system, each team would still be guaranteed a point.  However, knowing that there are 3 points on the line instead of 2, could lead to some dramatic endings to games we wouldn’t otherwise see.

Teams would be inclined to take more chances given the extra incentive.  What do fans like to see more than anything?  Memorable moments.  Great endings to games.  There would be many more of each by switching to a 3 point win system.

Tighter Playoff Races

Another effect of switching to this kind of point system would be much tighter playoff races down the stretch.  Now imagine for a minute that your team is in a 4 team race for the division title.  It’s the final day of the regular season.  Team A is leading the way, with both Team B and Team C a single point back.  You are Team D, and trail by 2 points.  Under the current system, the best you could do was tie in points, and hope you won a tiebreaker.  Under the new system, your team would have a chance to win the division outright, depending on how the other teams performed.

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Changing to 3 point regulation wins will ultimately lead to more celebrating. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Wouldn’t that make for some amazing drama on the final day?  Whether it be for playoff positioning, or just trying to make the playoffs, the new system would give teams a chance that they wouldn’t otherwise have.  A team could be 5 points back with 2 games left, and have a chance to make the playoffs, with 2 regulation wins.  It would make for better games, and better ratings as well.

What About Ties?

The current system uses ROW (regulation + overtime wins) to break ties.  In the new system, regulation wins would be the 1st tiebreaker.  Then ROW would be used, then on down the line with the current system.  All told, there wouldn’t be many changes to what is already being used.

How Would The New System Look Now?

Glad you asked.  I went through all 30 teams and generated their point total under the 3 point regulation win system.  It turns out the 16 teams that would be in the playoffs now, would be the 16 teams in the playoffs under the new system.  The only difference would be some positioning.

So which team has the most points currently under the new system?  It’s the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Of their 34 wins, 30 of them have been in regulation.  They currently have a record of 34-16-5.  Under the new system, they would be 30(4)-16-5 for 103 points.  The 4 you see represents the number of wins either in OT or the shootout.  Nashville is 2nd with 101 points, with record of 25(10)-12-6.  The worst team, is Buffalo, with 9 regulation wins in 54 games this season, a record of 9(7)-35-3.  Yikes.

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Tampa Bay has 4 more regulation wins than their next closest competitor. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Need proof this system would make for tighter playoff races?  Take a look at the top of the Metropolitan Division under the new system.  The Penguins and Islanders would each have 91 points, while the Rangers and Capitals would each have 89 points.  That would be some race coming down the stretch in March and April.

This change would be a breath of fresh air for the NHL.  The games will have better endings.  The race to the playoffs will be much tighter.  If a change is needed for the good of the game, it must be considered.  Rewarding teams for winning is good for the game.  Hopefully, the NHL sees the good in this sooner rather than later.