Feb 14, 2012

Current NHL Eastern standings with alternative points systems

Yesterday's anti-"loser point" blog post over at Holik on Hockey annoyed me, as it's just completely backwards. The post seems to imply that the NHL's introduction of a "loser point" distorts the league, and uses the relative standings of the Habs vs the Panthers as an example of the problems of the current system.

Thanks to nhltruestandings.com, I bashed this together to show the meaning of the loser point, as well as the change that would come from switching to a real three-point system (3 pts for a regulation win, 2 for an OT/SO win, 1 for OT/SO loss).

Current stats:

NYR 29 W, 4 OTW, 3 SW, 5 OTL / 54 GP, 77 pts, 1st
BOS 27 W, 1 OTW, 6 SW, 5 OTL / 53 GP, 70 pts, 2nd
FLA 23 W, 1 OTW, 3 SW, 11 OTL /55 GP, 65 pts, 3rd
PHI 26 W, 4 OTW, 1 SW, 7 OTL / 56 GP, 69 pts, 4th
PIT 23 W, 2 OTW, 9 SW, 5 OTL / 56 GP, 69 pts, 5th
NJ 19 W, 3 OTW, 3 SW, 4 OTL / 55 GP, 66 pts, 6th
OTT 19 W, 4 OTW, 5 SW, 8 OTL / 58 GP, 64 pts, 7th
TOR 22 W, 3 OTW, 3 SW, 6 OTL / 56 GP, 62 pts, 8th
--
WSH 22 W, 5 OTW, 1 SW, 5 OTL / 56 GP, 61 pts, 9th
WIN 20 W, 3 OTW, 3 SW, 6 OTL / 57 GP, 58 pts, 10th
MTL 19 W, 2 OTW, 2 SW, 9 OTL / 57 GP, 55 pts, 11th
TBL 17 W, 5 OTW, 2 SW, 6 OTL / 55 GP, 54 pts, 12th
NYI 16 W, 3 OTW, 4 SW, 8 OTL / 55 GP, 54 pts, 13th
BUF 17 W, 2 OTW, 5 SW, 6 OTL / 55 GP, 54 pts, 14th
CAR 19 W, 2 OTW, 0 SW, 11 OTL / 57 GP, 53 pts, 15th

No loser point (i.e. OTL discounted):

NYR 72 pts
BOS 65 pts
WSH 56 pts (+6)
PIT 64 pts (+1)
PHI 62 pts (-1)
NJ 62 pts
TOR 56 pts (+1)
OTT 56 pts (-1)
--
FLA 54 pts (-6)
WIN 52 pts
TBL 49 pts (+1)
BUF 48 pts (+2)
MTL 46 pts (-2)
NYI 46 pts (-1)
CAR 42 pts

Proteau system (3 pts reg. win, 2 pts OT win, 1 pt SO win)

NYR (87+8+3) 98 pts
BOS (81+2+6) 89 pts
WSH (66+10+1) 77 pts (+6)
PHI (78+8+1) 87 pts
PIT (69+8+1) 78 pts
TOR (66+6+3) 75 pts (+2)
FLA (69+2+3) 74 pts (-4)
OTT (57+8+5) 70 pts (-1)
--
WIN (60+6+3) 69 pts (+1)
NJ (57+6+3) 66 pts (-4)
MTL (57+4+2) 63 pts
TBL (51+10+2) 63 pts
CAR (57+4+0) 61 pts (+2)
BUF (51+4+5) 60 pts
NYI (48+6+4) 58 pts (-1)

Three-point system:

NYR (87+14+5) 106 pts
BOS (81+14+5) 100 pts
WSH (66+22+5) 93 pts (+6)
PIT (69+22+5) 96 pts (+1)
PHI (78+10+7) 95 pts (-1)
FLA (69+8+11) 88 pts (-3)
TOR (66+12+6) 84 pts (+1)
OTT (57+18+8) 83 pts (-1)
--
WIN (60+12+6) 78 pts (+1)
MTL (57+8+9) 74 pts (+1)
NJ (57+12+4) 73 pts (-6)
CAR (57+4+11) 72 pts (+3)
TBL (51+14+6) 71 pts (-1)
BUF (51+14+6) 71 pts
NYI (48+14+8) 70 pts (-2)

There's yet another alternative here, which gives you the standings without the shootout or "loser point" (i.e. pre-1999). In them, the Panthers are still a playoff team.

**

As you can see, no system we can adopt will make the Habs a playoff team, and in fact, only the in my mind slightly contrived "current system with no loser point" option will drop the Cats from the post-season. Florida's dramatic drop with the changes is a feature of the divisional system, not the points system. In fact, it's the New Jersey Devils who benefit most from the current system, as under either three-point system their inability to win in regulation would drop them below the top eight. Making an overtime or shootout win equal to a regulation win distorts the statistics far more than the "loser point".

As for parity, the 14th team in the East is currently five wins short of a playoff spot. In either three-point system, they're four wins out. The main difference would be that unlike in the current system, it would be easier to make headway in the standings by winning games in regulation. I've been saying for years that the problem with the current standings isn't the "loser point", it's the equivalence of SO/OT wins with regulation wins and the resulting three-point/two-point system.

I wonder if I could persuade my co-blogger to work out the same tables for the Western Conference? I'm thinking that Anaheim would be making better time up the charts with a system that actually rewards winning.

A real three-point system would give teams a real incentive to try to win games in regulation, and maintain parity in the standings while allowing teams to make headway or fall based on their play. This discussion has been going on ever since the shootout was introduced, and I still haven't heard any real arguments against the three-point system. Sheer conservatism has the NHL stuck with a pointless hybrid scoring system that makes the standings into a logjam.

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