Let's Stop Awarding the Loser Point in the NHL by @ChicksDigHockey



The 2005 lockout did a lot to change the face of hockey today.  Changes that were instituted include  removal of the two-line pass, increasing the offensive zone, addition of the trapezoid, and most significantly, the elimination of ties.

The 'loser point' and the shootout were born.

The shootout: one shooter, one netminder. One chance for the shooter to get the puck past the netminder. Best out of three wins. We all know it isn’t that simple.  (think of the recent Caps/Panthers shootout, which took 20 rounds to complete) The shootout was the league’s attempt to get rid of ties altogether. However, since the post-lockout introduction of shootouts in 2005-06, overtime games have been on the rise.

You would have to go back over 15 years to find the reason behind the shootout. In 1999, the NHL introduced the concept of an overtime loss.  Teams that made it through regulation would earn a point regardless of the outcome of the game.  The idea was to encourage teams to go for a win in overtime, though games could still end in a tie and be decides by shootout. What happened was, ties increased as teams focused on just getting to overtime to earn a point…unaffectionately known as ‘The Loser Point’.

I have no problem with the eventuality of deciding a regular season game based on the shootout. I oppose the loser point. 

The problem with awarding a point for a tie at the end of regulation is that some weaker teams have been able to leverage that to their advantage. An often cited example of this is the 2011-12 Florida Panthers. That season, the Panthers set a league record with18 overtime losses while winning the Southeast Division.  Three teams that missed the playoffs that season actually had more wins than the Panthers. Instead of playing to win, they played to not lose…and they were rewarded for it.
The reward needs to come from winning.

Before I go any further, let me say I’m not advocating going back to a tie nor do I think the NHL ever would. Though controversial, the shootout is very popular among hockey fans.

How do you fix it? How do you solve that some games end in a tie yet hold on to the on-the-edge-of-your-seat excitement? There are some proposed solutions.

Lengthen 4-on-4 overtime. Make OT sudden death but as long as 10 minutes. Award no points at the end of regulation because there is no winner. Award 2 points to the OT winner. Would we see teams play more aggressively as the clock wound down in regulation knowing no point would be rewarded for simply surviving regulation? Likely.
4-on-4 hockey is very exciting. Many think that, given 10 minutes, more games could be decided without the shootout. If the team doesn’t get it done by that time, there would have to be a shootout and a 2pt/1pt awarded but there would be a lot fewer loser points to impact the overall standings.
That proposal preserves the 2-point game system. Some advocate going to a 3-point system.
In 2013, National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) modified its point system with regard to overtime and shootout wins: 
“Each conference game will be worth three points. Three points will be awarded to any team that wins a game in regulation or within the five-minute sudden-death overtime period. One point will be awarded to each team in a game that remains tied at the conclusion of the overtime period. One additional point will be awarded to the team who wins the shootout, giving that team two points total for winning the game in a shootout. A team that loses in regulation or during the five-minute overtime period will receive zero points. [NCHC Hockey]”
This approach also puts more of a premium on regulation wins by rewarding the teams that actually play to win, instead of trying not to lose.

The NFL doesn’t give points when there’s a tie at the end of regulation and moves to OT. MLB simply goes to the top of the 10th and on from there. Should the NHL continue to reward a loss or find a way to place the premium on winning the game? What do you think?
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2 comments:

  1. I've always said it should be 2 points for a win, 1 point for an OT win, 0 points for any loss.

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