Shootout Points Change Playoff Scenarios

Since the shootout has come into the NHL, the number of three point games has greatly increased. Instead of the occasional overtime win or overtime loss, mixed in with a lot of ties, we now always have a winner, meaning every overtime game is worth three points. I am not a fan of the shootouts. I don’t think it makes sense to have something in the regular season that you don’t in the postseason. And yes, the same would hold true for ties, but ties are not an entirely new aspect to the game like a shootout is.

When a team gets to the postseason, the shootout doesn’t mean anything. Look at Edmonton. Though they missed the playoffs, they won 15 shootouts compared to 4 overtime wins. Without a shootout, they would only have won 26 games this year. And I don’t see how winning games in a shootout would help a team in the postseason, so I decided to go back through all of the games and re-do the standings, with any game making it to a shootout becoming a tie, but still allowing 2 points for an overtime win and 2 points for an overtime loss. In other words, the system used before the shootout was implemented.

As of Saturday, April 5, 2:30PM

Eastern Conference

1. Montreal Canadiens 41-25-11-5 98 Points
2. Pittsburgh Penguins 40-26-11-4 95 Points
3. Carolina Hurricanes 41-33-5-3 90 Points
4. New Jersey Devils 38-29-11-3 90 Points
5. Philadelphia Flyers 38-29-9-5 90 Points
6. Washington Capitals 38-31-8-4 88 Points
7. Boston Bruins 35-28-13-5 88 Points
8. New York Rangers 34-27-16-4 88 Points

9. Ottawa Senators 38-31-8-3 87 Points
10. Buffalo Sabres 33-31-14-3 83 Points
11. Toronto Maple Leafs 33-34-7-7 80 Points
12. Florida Panthers 33-34-11-3 80 Points
13. New York Islanders 30-38-8-6 74 Points
14. Tampa Bay Lightning 29-41-3-8 69 Points
15. Atlanta Thrashers 24-40-15-2 65 Points

Western Conference

1. Detroit Red Wings 48-21-10-2 108 Points
2. San Jose Sharks 43-22-12-4 102 Points
3. Minnesota Wild 41-28-10-2 94 Points
4. Anaheim Ducks 38-27-14-1 91 Points
5. Dallas Stars 39-30-8-4 90 Points
6. Calgary Flames 38-30-6-7 89 Points
7. Nashville Predators 38-32-8-4 88 Points
8. Colorado Avalanche 37-31-9-4 87 Points

9. Chicago Blackhawks 35-33-9-4 83 Points
10. Vancouver Canucks 33-32-15-1 82 Points
11. Phoenix Coyotes 33-37-10-1 77 Points
12. Columbus Blue Jackets 31-34-11-4 77 Points
13. Edmonton Oilers 26-35-19-2 73 Points
14. St. Louis Blues 28-36-8-8 72 Points
15. Los Angeles Kings 27-42-8-4 66 Points

The Western Conference playoff picture doesn’t change much, just Colorado sliding down two places. In the East, New Jersey is the only top 8 team to stay in the same place, but are tied in points with the Flyers. I wanted to see what happened with the old system, which I believe to be more representative of the quality of a team, and I think it shows how the shootout can influence the standings.

Overall, the only 1 current playoff team, the Senators, gets pushed out, so it seems that the shootout, for the most part, doesn’t allow bad teams to appear good, or make good teams appear bad. But I don’t think it works well in distinguishing good teams from other good teams. For example, the Rangers and Devils had 8 and 7 shootout wins, respectively. The Flyers had 3. Without their wins, neither team has a better winning percentage than the Flyers. So does being able to win a breakaway competition really mean the Rangers and Devils are better? The Rangers and Devils both won the season series with the Flyers, so that might answer the question, but in a general sense I can’t believe that makes a team better.

Imagine if the Oilers had sneaked into the playoffs. If I was a Predators fan, I would have been pissed, knowing the only reason they made it was through shootout wins and not actually scoring goals. So this just shows how one extra shootout point can affect an entire season for one or more teams. I would much rather have ties still, but I doubt the league will change back any time soon.