NHL Point System Is Broken

Matthew CalamiaCorrespondent IApril 10, 2011

MONTREAL, CANADA - APRIL 5:  Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens makes a stick save on the puck during the NHL game against the Chicago Blackhawks at the Bell Centre on April 5, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Canadiens defeated the Blackhawks 2-1 in overtime.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

Hockey is the best sport in the world. It's point system is not.

There are two glaring holes in the current NHL point system: shootouts not counting for wins as a tie-breaker, and the overtime point awarded to the loser of the game.

Coming out of the lock-out, the NHL was looking for ways to bring in the casual fan to up ratings. What better way than the shootout? At times, it is the most exciting sequence in the game. Also, who ever enjoyed seeing a game end in a tie?

There was always the division of old-school and new-school on the shootout debate, but it was now part of the game. But, prior to this season, the NHL concluded that the shootout should not be included in wins at the end of the season in a tie-breaker. What that means is if a team finishes the season with 40 total wins, but five of those came via the shootout, the team would actually only be rewarded 35 wins. If they are tied with points at the end of the season with another team who has the same amount of points but more wins in regulation or overtime, they are awarded the tie-breaker, even if they have fewer total wins.

If the league wants to have shootouts, they must count as a win at the end of the season, or get them out of the game entirely. We've always heard that 'A win is a win,' but that isn't the case in the NHL. The New York Rangers finished with 44 wins this season, but lost nine of those victories in a tie-breaker at the end of the season, almost preventing them from making the playoffs. 

The shootout helps you on a game-by-game basis, but can ultimately be your demise come April. It is just a broken system that can easily be amended by the NHL. 

Can you think of another sports league where teams are awarded for a loss? The NHL awards the overtime loss point to create more races and competition come March and April, but is that fare? Sure, it allows teams to stay in races, but it also allows mediocre teams to gain ground on elite teams when they really shouldn't.

The best reference is that do baseball teams gain a half-game in the standings when they lose in the 12th inning rather than the ninth? 

How often does your team win a game they need to create space with a team trying to catch them, only for that team to gain a point because of a loss in overtime. It allows sub-par teams to stay in races, but it also decreases the chances for top-tier teams to show their worth.

Competition is great, but at what cost? These two glaring problems with the standings structure sour the game. Not every team deserves to be in the playoff hunt, and it shouldn't be the league's responsibility to allow them to stay in the race longer than they should.