How The NHL's Shootout Tie-Breaker Rule Could Affect the Flames' Playoff Chances

The shootout is one area where the Flames have been bucking the trend this season, going 7-4 in the so-called Skills Competition thus far after holding a winning record only once in the five seasons since its addition , but a new rule implemented by the NHL in September that prevents shootout wins from being used in tie-breaking procedure could actually hamper them in the case of such an event. 

Although overtime wins still count towards a team's win total in the case of a tie, it is not uncommon to see teams play it safe in the extra frame in hopes of making it to the shootout if they think they'll have a better chance to win the game, despite the 4-on-4 format designed to encourage scoring. In fact we've probably seen the Flames employ such a strategy several times already this season. With the Flames currently tied with Los Angeles and Colorado for tenth in the West and two points back of the Sharks for eighth, this rule could affect the position of more than a few teams jockeying for a playoff position down the stretch in the crowded Western Conference. I decided to find out what the standings would look like if the season were to end today and shootout wins were eliminated from the equation.

Take a look at the results after the jump!

TEAM GP/WINS PTS SO WINS OT WIN OT/SOL WINS (-SO) PTS
VAN 51/32 73 2 2 9 30 69
DET 49/30 66 2 7 6 28 62
DAL 51/30 65 4 4 5 26 57
MIN 50/26 57 1 4 5 25 55
PHX 52/25 59 2 0 9 23 55
ANA 52/28 60 4 3 4 24 52
CHI 51/27 58 3 2 4 24 52
SJ 51/26 58 3 2 6 23 52
COL 50/26 56 3 5 6 22 50
NSH 51/27 61 6 0 7 21 49
LAK 51/27 56 5 1 2 22 46
STL 49/22 51 3 2 7 19 45
CBJ 50/23 51 4 4 5 19 43
CGY 52/25 56 7 2 6 18 42
EDM 49/15 38 1 2 8 14

36

One look at this table tells you just how much shootout wins have helped the Flames this season, as the extra point has greatly contributed to vaulting them out of the conference basement and into contention for a playoff spot. For the most part, the fewer wins via the shootout a team has, the better their record when those wins are removed, giving them an edge in the case of a potential tie-breaker. 

If the Flames want to keep their hopes alive, they'd better start winning some games in regulation, getting it done in overtime, or at the very least, settling for the loser point. 

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