What's the point with the 3-point system?

So the NHL wants to go to the 3-point game, do they? Well let me be the first to offer an opinion.

To put it mildly, I hate it. To put it accurately, I hate it with the intensity of a million suns. I would rather have a battery acid enema. I would rather have a root canal from a dentist school drop-out. I would rather have the Leafs go undefeated, regular season and playoffs, for the next 15 seasons, winning every game 10-0, than see this adopted. Got the picture?

The current system means that there’s a difference in losses, which was not only bad, but unfair. The intent was honourable, but the result was unjust. The whole strategy became collecting points, not wins. This new system now adds another wrinkle. Now, it penalizes a team for taking that extra bit of time to win the game. They still won the game, yet they don’t get the same reward for doing it. It’s not just stupid, it’s confusing. If you thought the OT loss column was bad, they will have to add a fifth column to the standings. Because you only get 2 points for an OT win, they will have to be differentiated from regulation wins. So the standings will go from W–L–T–OTL to W–L–T–OTW–OTL.

Now, they say that this will lead to an increase in offence, but isn’t that what they said about the current system? Wasn’t the rationale that with the point in the bag, they’d go all out in the extra five minutes? Yet we still have nine teams with at least 10 ties. In 1998-99, under the old overtime system, there were 167 ties during the entire system. To date, there are 124, in 823 games. That puts the league on pace for 185 ties this season. Either way, about 15% of games, both this year and in 98-99, ended in ties. That leads me to the conclusion that the current overtime system isn’t working. So it should be scrapped altogether.

But instead of scrapping the system, they’re going to make it worse. Or, at the very least, they won’t get the result they want. If you take the current system and apply it to this season, the only change in the standings will be in the seeding of playoff teams. Ottawa would move up to 4th from 5th, and Toronto would move from 2nd to 1st in the East. In the West, Detroit would move to 1st from 2nd, and Calgary would move to 6th from 8th. St. Louis would fall to 8th, tied with LA. The old system would have a similar impact, with only two teams making any movement. Knowing this, where’s the incentive to change how you play. In fact, the overtime could get worse, because teams will still not want to let the other team get that “extra” point. If they really want to change the overtime, make it 10 minutes. Or better still, 20.

I would like to see the league abandon the points system all together. The standings would be based on winning percentage, with ties being the first tie-breaker, ironically. Under this system, a win, no matter how long it took, would be a win. Using the current season, Boston would fall from 4th to 7th, without being propped up by their 11 ties so far. Philadelphia would fall from 1st to 3rd, and New Jersey would go from 6th to 4th. In the West, Dallas would lead the Pacific, and Edmonton would be in the hunt for a playoff spot in 9th instead of 12th. All the teams ahead of them, LA, Minnesota, and Phoenix, have at least 13 ties, by the way.

Here’s an even worse scenario. At the All-Star break there were four team in the West with 60 pts; St. Louis, Nashville and Calgary each hade 26 wins in 54 games, and Los Angeles had 21. Hypothetically, let’s say that they are still tied with one game remaining. What would happen if two of those teams won their final game, but one won it in overtime, and one won in regulation. Under the new system, the team would face the top seed in the conference, while the other could get the 3rd or 4th seed. Further, what if LA won in regulation, but the other three teams needed overtime to win their games. That would put LA in a much better playoff position that it may have deserved.

So to wrap it all up in a nutshell, I hope they don’t adopt this. And I hope that they will go back to the system from 98-99. And in a perfect world, they will adopt the winning percentage system.

26 Responses to What's the point with the 3-point system?

  1. BarryMelrosesMullet says:

    Soccer uses it and I think it is what was proposed years ago and should most definitely be in place today. It is an incentive for every team up until the last minute and not just in regulation time.

  2. Lint07 says:

    Thank God for this article! I thought I would have to write my own about the 3-point rule.

    I HATE IT.

    It makes me think too much about soccer and I don’t like soccer much. I don’t like when they change the game too much. I mean, change is a good thing but sometimes, too much is like not enough. A win has ALWAYS BEEN 2 points, since the beginning of the league. Why change it now?

    Here’s what I think they should do instead:

    The OT Loss point was a way to bring the 4-4 OT system, now that every team got it, I say remove the OT Loss point and everything will be just fine.

    See Gary, it’s not that hard.

  3. TheTruth says:

    I don’t get why this is more of a problem than the division seedings. It’s rediculous that the top division leaders automatically get seeded 1-3 in their respective divisions. Right now Tampa would drop from 3rd to 7th. San Jose would drop from 3rd to 4th. This drastically changes the playoff first round opponents. A team like Vancouver is fighting for the best record in the league. Lets assume the Avs win the league title, with Vancouver tied for the same number of points but one less win in the northwest division. That means although Vancouver came second out of the 30 team league they only come 4th in their conference. Conversly that powerhouse Southeast division could end up with Tampa, Florida and Atlanta on the same number of points with one of the 3 having one extra win over the others. That could mean all 3 teams should miss the playoffs but the one that scrapes through gets to be seeded 3rd in the Eastern conference.

  4. BarryMelrosesMullet says:

    That is the best suggestion in a long time.

  5. anonomass says:

    Just what I was thinking. Why reward a team for losing?

  6. Treva says:

    why not, the more teams that lose in ot yet stay in contention is just sickening.

    While they are at it, change the seeds so that at least one team from each divison makes it (need to keep regional fans). The seeding is based on points, so that 6th place doesn’t have a cakewalk.

  7. swedishvoice says:

    The answer is easy… You don’t what it… It’s BAAAD…

    We have it in Sweden and it Sucks…

  8. peanut_butter_shelf says:

    God bless everyone else who believes that you should receive nothing, zero, zilch for losing whether it be in the first period or OT, whether there is one guy on the ice or six. You lost….Better luck next time.

    The Hurricanes reached the playoffs b/c of there overtime losses and missed the year before b/c Boston had more OT losses. Bullshit if you ask me.

    W-L-T(looks good right?) Non-NHL followers have no clue of what the OTL column is now!

    PS–How bad will the Luongo-Jokinen for Dipietro-Parish-Kavasha look now if the NHL decides to not allow goalies to play the puck behind the goal line??? Just when you thought Milbury couldn’t look any dumber!

  9. wheresthesoda says:

    your right, making a win 3 points is not going to make games more high scoring, it will make teams like the devils look for high goal scorers but isnt going to make the game high scoring.

    perfect solution….. 4 on 4

    reduce the roster size by 4. that means you will have only 16 skaters, and 2 goalies. also u have to reduce the number of games by 7 so the playes dont get worn down. you are allowed to have as many players u want on road trips, if there is an injury u dont have 2 call a kid up you have sum1 else.

    this will open up the game alot more. or you could keep 5 on 5 and make the rink bigger and get rid of the red line, icing will only be called from the inside of your zone and no 2 line passes.

    either way it will make the game high scoring.

    mainly because the trap would be useless, people would soon to leanr broduer isnt that good.

    well, thats my solution

  10. HabsNick says:

    The question is not only “should we give an extra point for winning in regulation time?” AKA “we want less overtime margin and more commercials during games”.

    It’s not about giving a point to a losing team either…

    It’s all about giving points to a team that didn’t win! A tie game should be no points at all, but it can serve as a tie breaker for teams with the same number of wins at the end of a season.

    Imagine how OTs would be if teams couldn’t just decide to take the point and be happy with it, they’d *NEED* to win.

    I like a hard-fought tie game as much as the next guy, but there’s too many of them since teams oftentimes play for that single point. A tie game is all fine and dandy in minor hockey where you play for fun, but in pro hockey, they should play only to win, thats what they’re paid for.

    Disclaimer: I really like the idea i’m presenting here, but i’m not a zealot about it. There are some flaws about it, but it’s not worse than giving 3 points to a win and 2 points for an OT win, and 1 point for an OT loss.

  11. matteo says:

    Win is 2 points

    Loss is 0 points

    Overtime is a 5 minute 4-on-4 followed by a shootout.

    Problem solved – no more ties. Plus you add the excitement of a shootout. Everyone wins.

  12. TheTruth says:

    Here’s an idea that will make a HUGE difference.

    Change the rules so obstuction and hooking are done away with. Secondly call the rules through the season and the post season. Call the rules in the first period and the third period. Call the rules in a tie game or in a 10 – 0 game. Call the rules the same for rough players and princesses. ( ie same calls for Tie Domi and Steve Yserman ).

    The rules should be:


    The blade of the stick cannot be placed on an opposing player. The shaft ( between both hands) is permitted. The blade or shaft may touch the opposing players stick.


    The free arm ( not holding the checkers stick ) may not be placed on an opposing player.

    These rules would eliminate all the clutching, grabbing and hooking. The talented players would then be able to skate. The crappy D-men and checkers would become useless.

    Also the best d-men in the league would be far more valuable because they would be able to maintain position on the offensive players.

    These rules would make Brett Hull smile, along with Naslund, Sakic, Jagr, Hossa and the rest of the scorers.

  13. matrix2003 says:

    It’s a load of B.S. that’s for sure. It’s just another way to Americanize the game. Leave the game alone you idiots. That’s pretty much my message to that idea.

  14. matrix2003 says:

    How about this for an awesome rule change, you touch the oppositions player with your stick or hold him in any way an you get… no not a penalty but a 10 minute misconduct, that’ll open the game up.

  15. Kashin says:

    Out of all the new rule changes this and the goalie not being able to play the puck are the worst. The system they have now is good not great but it can do. The system before 99 was better but this is okay. The new idea is just dumb. Plain stupid. A win is a win and a loss is a loss. A tie is halfway between a win and a loss. This will ruin it.

    The goalie changes. Stealing the ability of a goalie not being able to play the puck is taking away what Brouder and Turco have perfected.

    I like the idea that a goalie is at risk but there should be some limit. One shouldnt be able to take out the goalie but should be able to give a poke check. If Lindros comes back he would love this rule.

    Is this official or they need to vote on this first?

  16. IrishRinkrat says:

    First off, three points in any game is rediculous in the current system. I mean, last year, the OT loss rule gave Colorado the division crown over Vancouver, and that isn’t fair. So either go back to no OT loss points or really expand the points system to this:

    Win: 4 Points

    OT Win: 3 Points

    Tie: 2 Points

    OT Loss: 1 Point

    Loss: No Points

  17. rojoke says:

    I focused on the 3-point system because I really hated it (I think I may have mentioned that). The proposal on the goalies playing the puck behind the goal line is one that I like, but something has been mentioned by a few people in the media. What exactly do they mean by playing the puck? Do they mean passing the puck up ice to a teammate? Will they still be allowed to stop the puck behind the net, and leave it for a defenseman? Remember, they can still play the puck in front of the goal line, so there nothing stopping Brodeur from taking a step or two forward to retrieve the puck and play it up ice. It would help teams playing a dump-and-chase game, and this is one reason why this rule may either be broadened or rejected outright.

  18. rojoke says:

    Soccer also uses huge nets, but you don’t see them being adopted. Soccer is soccer, and hockey is hockey, and never the twain shall meet.

    If you wanna use other sports for ideas, why not bring in a two-point goal for goals scored outside the face-off circle?

  19. TC_4 says:

    Thank you! I agree with that 107%!

  20. TC_4 says:

    I’m going to say this, I hate it, and I don’t know why it’s so hard to bring in a shootout to the regular Season to eliminate a column off the record. W-L-SOL. Goaltending equipment gets regulated to the correct size, hooks, holds, and interference are called a lot more closely, and goaltenders should be able to stop the puck behind the net, but not play it, and are fair game if they come out more then 8 feet from there crease(paint a zone on the ice for that). I would guarentee that scroing would shoot back up, but not to the point of too far.

  21. headpushslap says:

    Just make every game worth two points.

    WIN= 2 points

    LOSS= 0 points

    TIE= 0 points

    Thus, A win in regulation or overtime is a win. A loss is a loss, and a tie only benefits you by taking away a possible 2 points from a divisional or conference rival.

  22. hoser24 says:

    >I like the idea that a goalie is at risk but there should be some limit. One shouldnt be able to take out the goalie but should be able to give a poke check. If Lindros comes back he would love this rule.

    Isn’t that what they’re allowed to do now?

  23. meetak says:

    There is no point to a three point system.

    My solution would be:

    4 points for a win ( regulation or OT)

    2 points for a tie

    1 point for an OTL

    A loss should always be worth less than a tie .

    This way, the relationship between ties and wins stays the same in terms of point value, but an OTL still counts for something.

    This would throw stats out of whack a bit ( teams could get 200+ points in a season) but to find out a team’s performance relative to previous years, just divide by 2.

    There would then be a BIG incentive to beat a team in Overtime if they are a conference or division rival: beat them and they lose a point, and you get 4.As it stands now, you only gain 1 point on a rival by beating them in OT, and that doesn’t seem right.

    I’m waiting to see a head to head game that decides a playoff spot end with an ot win like this:

    In a hypothetical season , let’s say Edmonton and Calgary are competing for spot #8 in the west, and they play each other on the last game of the year.

    Edmonton has a record of

    33-30-10-8 for a total of 84 points

    Calgary has a record of

    33-32-10-6 for a total of 82 points

    Calgary beats Edmonton in OT

    Final Record for both teams


    33-30-10-9 85 points


    34-32-10-6 84 points

    So Calgary, with more wins ,and less losses (38= 32 reg + 6 ot vs Edmonton’s 39=30 reg + 9 ot) doesn’t make the playoffs and Edmonton does.Just not right.

    In fact, if this were to happen, Calgary would have to pull their goalie at the end of the game in order to try and get the victory in regulation, as winning in overtime gets them nothing, so a game that should go to overtime could end with an empty net goal by Edmonton.

    In a 4 point win-2 point tie- 1 point OT loss system, Calgary would finish with 162 points, and Edmonton with 161, and Calgary, the team with the better record, would be in.

    It just makes sense to me.

  24. wayne2 says:

    Whats the point of making new rules when they cant even apply the ones that are in place,what a

    gutless organisation(NHL)

  25. rojoke says:

    Your proposal is exactly the same as the one I wrote against, only you’ve changed the numbers. The point I tried to make was that the proposal basically creates two different wins, and your proposal does the exact same thing. It penalizes one team for needing overtime to win the game. That’s the most dysfuntional part of the whole idea. A win should be a win, and a loss should be a loss, regardless of how long it takes to play the game.

  26. rojoke says:

    Under the system the GMs propose, two teams could win their first seven games of the season, and not be tied in the standings. Further, they could then lose their next seven games, and still not be tied in the standings. When I think of that, three words come to mind: illogical, unbelievable and idiotic.

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