Hello again, friends.
It has long been my contention that, while gimmicks such as the shootout or the "regulation tie/overtime loss point" may (depending on your point of view) make overtime more exciting, the old W-L-T format is the best and most fair way to rank teams during the regular season.
The NHL playoffs do not have shootouts, and you don't get half a win for losing in OT. So why would we allow teams to rack up points for winning shootouts in the regular season? Shootout skills and OT losses are useless when the playoffs begin, and yet they can have a profound impact on the teams the get to play and the matchups that are set.
So, one or two times each year, I like to check up on the standings and calculate how they would look if they were reconfigured to the old W-L-T format. I know it's contrived -- like it or not, the OT point and the shootout have changed the way teams play the game, making it impossible to truly determine what the standings would look like if the teams had been playing the W-L-T system all year. But I do think it is a interesting and useful tool for comparing teams, and even projecting how well teams might succeed in a playoff environment.
The calculation is not simply a matter of deleting the "loser point." The term "loser point," I think, is misleading because it disguises a great deal of the real issue. Instead, it's valuable to think about the "extra point" and consider where it is comping from.
In a game that ends in the OT period, the winner gets 2 points and the loser gets 1 point. In this scenario, the loser gets the "extra" point, because under the W-L-T system the winner would get 2 points and the loser would get 0 points.
In a game that ends in a shootout, the winner gets 2 points and the loser gets 1 point. In this scenario, the WINNER gets the "extra" point, because under the W-L-T system both teams would go home with a tie, and 1 point apiece.
Using this logic, it is clear that the current standings calculation give an unfair advantage to teams that 1) win shootouts, 2) lose in the OT period.
In order to recalculate the standings for the W-L-T system, a few operations must be performed. First, shootout wins must be subtracted from "W" and added to "T." Second, shootout losses must be subtracted from "OT" and added to "T." The remaining OT (that is, the games lost in the OT period) are added to "L." Fortunately, yours truly is handy with Microsoft Excel.
WESTERN CONFERENCE MODIFIED STANDINGS
1. Detroit 24-13-1-49
2. Vancouver 22-11-3-47
3. Dallas 18-14-7-43
4. Los Angeles 18-15-4-40
5. St. Louis 17-14-6-40
6. Anaheim 18-19-4-40
7. San Jose 18-17-3-39
8. Chicago 18-18-3-39
9. Minnesota 17-16-4-38
10. Columbus 17-17-4-37
11. Colorado 17-18-3-37
12. Phoenix 15-17-5-35
13. Nashville 14-17-6-34
14. Calgary 13-19-6-32
15. Edmonton 11-18-7-29
Observations: Disregarding seeding, only one top-eight team loses playoff position, with Colorado bowing out in favor of Chicago.
The big winner in the shakeup is Minnesota, which vaults from 13th (and 5 points out) to 9th (and 1 point out). Furthermore, with multiple games in hand against Chicago and Anaheim and a game in hand against San Jose, Minnesota looks like they have a slightly better than 50-50 shot of making the playoffs under the W-L-T system. That's certainly not the case under the "real" standings.
Colorado (with its 3 shootout wins and five losses in the OT period) and Nashville (4 shootout wins, 4 OT losses) lose a league-high 8 "extra points" apiece. Colorado tumbles four spots in the standings and goes from two points clear of eighth to two points out of it.
The standings are still ultra-tight, with only a 6-point spread between 4th and 13th -- the same as it is in real life.
EASTERN CONFERENCE MODIFIED STANDINGS
1. Philadelphia 22-12-4-48
2. Washington 20-14-5-45
3. Boston 19-12-5-43
4. Pittsburgh 22-13-4-48
5. Tampa Bay 20-14-4-44
6. NY Rangers 20-15-3-43
7. Montreal 21-18-0-43
8. Atlanta 18-17-6-42
9. Carolina 14-15-7-35
10. Ottawa 16-22-1-33
11. Florida 14-18-3-31
12. Buffalo 12-22-3-27
13. Toronto 11-21-4-26
14. NY Islanders 10-22-4-24
15. New Jersey 8-26-3-19
Observations: Two divisions (Atlantic and Southeast) swap first and second place, and Montreal and Atlanta trade the bottom two playoff seeds. Other than that, no one changes ranks.
The top half tightens considerably. In real life, first place in 9 points clear of eighth. Under the W-L-T system, the gap narrows to only 6 points.
Despite still being in 7th place in the W-L-T, the Canadiens would be third in the conference in wins, one behind Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Though Buffalo doesn't change its ranking, it loses a conference-high 7 "extra points" in the conversion, and goes from 10 points out to 15 points out.
Generally speaking, the chasm between the "haves" and "have nots" deepens slightly in the East. The top 8 teams, collectively, yield 24 total "extra points" in the standings, while the bottom 7 give up 32.
Carolina, still the best of the outsiders, goes from 6 to 7 points out, and though they still have games in hand (3 against Montreal, 5 against Atlanta), it gets a little bit harder to catch up.