Awarding points and the 2015 playoff race

Updated: January 11, 2018 at 3:05 am by Cam Lewis

Earlier this year, I decided it would be a great idea to sit down and figure out how the loser point had effected the NHL standings over the past five seasons. The effect was relatively negligible, with the only real changes coming in the form of a few shuffled around playoff seeds. The only significant change was the Los Angeles Kings missing out on the 2012 playoffs — the year they won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. 

I think most people agree the current system is awful. After a few years, people have grown tired of the shootout, and fans want to see either a 3-2-1-0 point format, or they want to see the point system scrapped completely. With the recent stir around three on three overtimes becoming a likely reality in the NHL, I decided to see what effect removing the loser point or adding a different style of point scoring would have on this season’s playoff race.

Eastern Conference with a win/loss format (*Wild Card teams)

Screen shot 2015-03-17 at 11.59.37 PM

Western Conference with a win/loss format (*Wild Card)

Screen shot 2015-03-17 at 11.59.45 PM

Hey, how about that. Removing the loser point and going with a simple win/loss format changes virtually nothing in the standings. The only change is the L.A. Kings losing their grip on a playoff spot to the Calgary Flames because the Kings have a few more points from OT losses. Aside from that, the West isn’t changed in the central, and the East remains completely intact. So the only change is a Kings/Flames swap. Surprise, surprise, the teams who win the most games make the playoffs regardless of how many times certain teams went to overtime. 

Get rid of the goddamn loser point.

Eastern Conference with a 3-2-1 point style format (*Wild Card)

Screen shot 2015-03-17 at 11.59.53 PM

I’m only going to go through the Eastern Conference, because it illustrates my point, and because going through and doing these is a pain in the ass. If you want to toggle over which teams have won the most games in different situations, check out Sporting Charts.  

If the NHL decides for some reason they’re going to roll with this convoluted point awarding format, it’s going to make it really annoying to quickly add up in your head how many points a team has. If that isn’t enough to convince you this format is awful, it also doesn’t really change the standings at all. The same eight teams make the playoffs because ultimately, if you win games, you’ll do well. Whether your wins come in regular or overtime doesn’t add enough to your point total to make a significant effect to the standings, and the same goes for whether you los in regulation or overtime. The one hilarious thing is that despite the fact they get awarded three points for a win and two for an overtime win, Buffalo still only has 56 points. If they were allowed to roll with this format while nobody else was, they still wouldn’t make the playoffs. They’re so bad. That’s why I chose to use their photo as the header for the article. 

Long story short, win games and you’ll do well. The overtime loss, or any other point awarding system has such a minuscule effect on the standings there really isn’t much purpose in keeping it around. Just go with the win/loss format and make it simple.