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Seven Points in One Game

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What's wrong with the NHL standings? We've had the "loser point" for nearly 10 seasons now, and we seem to have gotten used to it. Here's my idea to make it better.

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

In this age of advanced metrics and advanced predictability, trends, Corsi, Fenwick, zone starts, et cetera, ad infiniteum, ad nauseum, the one statistic that really matters at the end of the season is the most basic of "advanced statistics." Let me explain.

At the end of the season, the only number that matters is wins, or more specifically, wins-minus-losses. In the Western Conference, if that number is +12 or more, then there is a pretty good chance that you’re in the playoffs (the average eighth seed over the last eight 82 game seasons has earned 94 points). As I write this, the Flames are 9-6-2, or at a win-loss value of +3. If this rate keeps up for the rest of the season, the team will finish up at +15, or something like 45-30-7. This brings to my mind something that’s been bothering me. The loser point, and forgive my tangent.

The loser point, in and of itself, is not a bad idea. It rewards both teams for playing hard enough to match each other for 60 minutes. Its very existence, however, takes importance away from games that do not enter a fourth period. Each game that takes more than just 60 minutes is naturally weighted to be 50% more important than a game that does not. In other words, some losses are better than others, and is this really what we want to teach our kids?

There’s been talk of a second overtime, a three-on-three between the four-on-four period and the shootout. My proposal is to weight each and every game the same, seven points. A regulation win will give the winner seven, a first-overtime win, six, a second-overtime win, five, a shootout win, four, a shootout loss, three, a second-overtime loss, two, a first-overtime loss one, and a regulation loss, zero. This would also work if the "second-overtime" refinement never comes to pass. In that case, simply make every game worth five points. I've illustrated this in a tabular format below:

Regulation Win *5 7
First-OT Win *4 6
Second-OT Win *n/a 5
Shootout Win *3 4
Shootout Loss *2 3
Second-OT Loss *n/a 2
First-OT Loss *1 1
Regulation Loss *0 0

* the plan in case there is never a "second-overtime" implemented.

This approach would offer less and less of a reward as the game goes on, giving added incentive to finish off the opponent. The average .500 team would finish with 287 points (or 205 with the five-point per game plan), so the playoff threshold would be just below that. This would also do away with misleading records. A 38-26-18 win-loss record looks like it’s above average, but it’s really 38 wins and 44 losses.

The great weakness in this plan is also the win loss record. Would you really want to describe the Flames as a 32-3-4-1-8-4-3-27 club?

Still, the more I think about this, the more sense it makes, and before someone cites tradition in defense of doing away with the two point plan - I'll call into question how traditional it is to award a point for a loss. Weigh in below if you have a differing opinion, or if you agree, give your reasons why. Thanks for reading, and check back frequently for all the Flames news that you'll ever need.