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.


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