If a tie is like kissing your sister, then the points awarded for shootout losses seem like a consolation or attendance prize. I realize that the shootout is here to say. The league loves it. Casual fans love it. Traditional fans stand to watch it. Blah. Blah. Blah. I have resigned myself to accepting that the shootout is here to stay.
One of the things that I don't appreciate regarding the shootout is the inconsistency in overall points awarded in games. As a result, I started looking at ways to improve the point system while hoping to give regulation winning teams a better chance to move up in the standings late in the year and to make games and game strategy more interesting. During the process, I considered four point systems which were as follows:
A - 4 points for a regulation win, 3 points for an overtime win, 2 points for a shootout win, and 1 point for either a shootout or overtime loss (I know this still has a point imbalance but it is less frequent).
B - 3 points for a regulation win, 2 points for either an overtime or shootout win, and 1 point for either an overtime or shootout loss.
C - 3 points for a regulation win or overtime win, 2 points for a shootout win, 1 point for a shootout loss and no points for an overtime loss.
D - the current system - 2 points for any win and 1 point for a shootout or overtime loss.
In conducting the analysis, I used data from NHL.com over the last five years and recomputed point totals and the resulting standings based on the various point systems above. I used the same divisional and tie breaker systems that were in place at that particular time.
So what were the results?
: In the East, both system A and B would have turned the Canadiens into the home team for their first round series against the Lightning. System B would have turned the Blues into the divisional winner to face the Wild and sending the Black Hawks to face the host Avalanche. All of the rest of the seeds would have been in the same in all of the systems.
: In the East, system B would have changed the positions of the Rangers and the Senators, making the Senators head to the host Capitals and sending the Rangers to visit the Canadiens. System C would have allowed the Maple Leafs to host the Bruins and kept the Islanders from making the playoffs, instead sending the Jets back to the playoffs. In the West, the changes were more prevalent. In all three of the alternate systems, the Kings would have surpassed the Blues and allowed them to host their playoff series. In every alternate, the Sharks would have dropped significantly, dropping from 6th to 8th in systems A and B and out of the playoffs entirely in system C with the Blue Jackets sneaking into the 8th seed. The Red Wings would have improved from the 7th seed to the 6th seed in systems A and B. The Wild would have improved from the 8th seed to the 7th seed in systems A and B and to the 6th seed in system C.
: In the East, systems A and C would have allowed the Capitals to win the division, making them the 3rd seed and forcing the Panthers to the 8th seed and moving the Senators to the 7th seed. In the West, the only difference would have been created in system C with the Stars stealing the 8th seed from the Kings. I bet the other 15 playoff teams wish system C would have been in place as the Kings went on the win the Stanley Cup.
: In the East, all of the alternative systems would have moved the Penguins from the 4th seed to the 1st seed and the Flyers from the 2nd seed to the 4th seed. Systems A and B would have moved the Capitals from the 1st seed to the 3rd seed and the Bruins up to the 2nd seed from 3rd. The Capitals would slide into the 2nd seed in system C. The Rangers slide in front of the Sabres and into the 7th seed in systems B and C. The West shows a lot less activity with the Kings moving down a spot into 8th in systems A and C. The Black Hawks improve to the 7th seed in system A and all the way to the 5th seed in system C. The Ducks slide two spots to the 6th seed in system B with the Predators and Coyotes each improving one spot to the 4th and 5th seeds, respectively. In system C, the Predators and Coyotes slide one spot to the 6th and 7th seeds, respectively.
: In the East, only the bottom half would be affected. The Flyers improve one spot to 6th and the Canadiens fall out of the playoffs in every alternate system with the Rangers jumping into the playoffs as the 7th seed in systems A and B and the 8th seed in system C. The Bruins fall to the 8th seed in Systems A and B and to the 7th seed in system C. In the West, the Black Hawks move up a spot to take the overall number one seed away from the Sharks in system C. In systems A and B, the Predators move up a spot ahead of the Kings into the 6th seed. In system C, the Predators jump even higher to the 5th seed, forcing the Red Wings down to the 7th seed.
You can see the summary data here:
So what does this all mean? It means that a lot data like this is hard to put into the written word. The data seems to largely suggest that all three alternate systems generally would have similar impacts. If I was making the decision, I would likely select system A as I think it rewards teams going for victories under more "regular" hockey situations and could provide some intriguing situations and strategies, especially down the stretch. I like the idea of teams going for wins rather than sitting and waiting for the shootout. I also think the system would help teams be able to close point gaps better, later in the year, making the stretch run even more exciting.
In the next week, I plan to propose my draft lottery system, again focused on rewarding winning teams. Until later, it's a great day for hockey.