Flyers analysis

Would the Flyers benefit from a change to the NHL's scoring system?

What if the NHL stopped rewarding teams for losing? We take a look inside the numbers.

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For the past quarter-century, the NHL has rewarded losing. Beginning with the 1999-2000 season, any team that was able to force overtime was given a point in the standings, even if the game ended in a tie.

When the league eliminated ties following the lockout of the 2004-2005 season, they instituted the shootout, but kept the point in the standings for the losing team that made it beyond regulation.

But what if that all changed? What if the NHL stopped rewarding teams who made it to OT, but still lost?

Let’s use this season’s Metropolitan Division as an example. It’s pretty congested in the middle of the division, with only ten points separating third from seventh place, and things should go down to the final few games to determine playoff seeding.

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As you can see, some teams benefit more from the SOL points than others. But if the NHL changed all that, the Metro standings would look very different.

Under this different scoring format, teams would get three points in the standings for a regulation win, two points for an overtime win, and one point for a shootout win. If you lose, you get nothing, as it should be.

Currently, a team could win half, or less than half of their games, and earn a playoff berth, simply by working the system by getting to OT.

You could conceivably go through an entire regular season without scoring a goal, and as long as you keep the other team from scoring in regulation, you would finish with 82 points. Yes, it’s ridiculous, but so is giving a team a reward for losing in overtime or in a shootout.

Using the 3-2-1-0 format I’ve proposed, here is what the Metro standings would look like entering play tonight:

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Under this alternative format, while the top three in the division remain in their spots, the Devils are rewarded for their 25 regulation wins – third-most in the Metro – and jump up to fourth place, right behind the Flyers. The Islanders, who have just 18 regulation wins, drop way out of the running to seventh.

While the Flyers are within shouting distance of Carolina in the current system, just six points back, that changes due to their shortage of regulation wins compared to the Hurricanes.

This change to the format would keep teams playing hard through the end of regulation, knowing that a win before overtime is worth more than a win beyond three periods. It would also help to weed out teams who rag the puck during the 3-on-3 overtime, weaving the puck through their own defensive zone, essentially playing for a shootout. In doing so, they are not only draining the excitement out of the game, but also costing themselves a point in the standings, even if they do win the shootout.

It’s not necessarily a drastic change, simply one that would reward the teams that perform the best over the course of the season.

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