Those of you who have followed my musings here at VLM over the years know that I’m not especially enamored with regular-season overtime (much less the shootout) in the National Hockey League. My dislike has nothing to do with whether the Maple Leafs are particularly good at the skills event or not in any given year. I’m just not a fan of ending a game that way and attributing points in that fashion. It has long felt to me as though the NHL standings are not really a reflection of what’s going on and how teams are playing because of the “bonus” points that are being handed out on a regular basis.
Having said that, I recognize that the NHL will never go back to the “old” way of doing things. I accept that tie games are a thing of the past, though I still believe it’s the way regular-season games should end.
I would dearly love to see an end to the shootout, whether that means extending the regular-season overtime session to ten minutes or not. Regardless, checking in on the ongoing World Hockey Championships in Belarus, it caught my eye this week that this prestigious international event just might have the right approach.
To be clear, I’ve never been opposed to the team that loses OT or a shootout getting a point. I guess this goes back to my view that a tie is a tie, and if a game ends in regulation that way, both teams should get a point and go home. So I don’t believe in penalizing a team just because they lose in overtime.
Now, while I’ve also never been a fan of giving the winning team three points (soccer went in this direction many years ago—as I recall, that was to motivate teams to go for the win and to get away from the boring, low scoring tie games that had plagued the sport). But the way it’s handled at the World Hockey Championships hits a good note with me.
If I understand the system correctly, here’s what happens: if a team wins in regulation, they earn three points. A team that wins in overtime/shootout receives two points and the team that loses in extra time earns a single point.
So if we’re going to have a regular-season overtime system in the NHL, that approach works for me. It just makes sense that a team should be rewarded for winning a game in regulation, as opposed to getting the same number of points in the standings as a team that wins a skills competition.
Canada, for example, finished the round-robin portion of the World Championships with 5 regulation wins, 1 overtime win and 1 overtime loss. So they finished the tournament with 18 points.
Three points for a regulation win; two points for an overtime win; one point for an overtime loss. I think that’s a fairer way to make the NHL standings better reflect how teams are playing.