The Problem with the NHL Standings

Matt WoodmanCorrespondent IJuly 7, 2008

It seems these days all anyone talks about when it comes to rule changes in the NHL is smaller goalie equipment, larger nets, and touch or no touch icing.

Well, here’s an issue that needs to be changed and affects every player on the ice and on the bench. (Drum role please) The way the NHL standings work when it comes to making and not making and the playoffs.

Year after year in the NHL, teams make the playoffs that really maybe shouldn’t be making the playoffs because of two different statistical aspects. The first one being divisional leaders being placed first to third in their conference.  The second being that overtime losses and shootout losses get a point.

Divisional leaders being placed first through third is the one that really gets me. This year for example, the Washington Capitals were placed at the top of their division and were appointed third place…ahead of four other teams who had more points then their club.

And why? Because they were ahead of every other team in their joke division called the Southeast. In 2006-2007, the same thing occurred. The Atlanta Thrashers managed 97 points and were awarded third place. Meanwhile, the Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins racked up 105 points a piece and were placed fourth and fifth place respectively.

Now I’m not here to rip up Southeast teams. (How could I, in the past four years the Cup has been awarded to two different Southeast teams) It just drives me nuts watching undeserving teams being ranked higher than teams who have worked hard for their higher amount of points.

That leads me to my next topic, points being awarded during a loss.

When should you ever be awarded for a loss…this is not elementary school where the gym teacher gives you a motivational award for placing last. It’s just another statistic to give mediocre teams an opportunity to make the playoffs. The new saying of the NHL seems to be “Oh well at least we get the point” after an OT loss.

Just this past year, the Carolina Hurricanes missed the playoffs by two points with a record of 43-33-6 for a total of 92 points, meanwhile the eighth place Boston Bruins who snagged the last playoff spot, had a record of 41-29-12 for a total of 94 points.

Notice the difference. The team with more losses and less wins made the playoffs, does that make sense?

Also this past season, the Montreal Canadiens came back from a 5-0 deficit during a game against the Rangers and stormed back to win 6-5 in a shootout. Why should the Rangers get a point for that?

“Oh well good try boys, we lost a game we clearly should have had, at least we get the point.” It’s ridiculous!

Hockey is the only sport (to my knowledge) that gives you a point for a loss. The NHL did the right thing in getting rid of the tie, now its time to do the same to overtime losses.

Thanks for reading,

Matt Woodman