Olympics makes point

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

If there is one thing these Olympics have taught the NHL, aside from the fact fighting isn’t necessary, it’s that a three-point system can have a great effect.

When Team Canada was pushed to a shootout against Switzerland, the loss of a point meant the Canadians were lower in the standings than teams who took care of business in the first 60 minutes.

That meant they had to play their way into the quarterfinals.

The NHL has adopted international rules before — hence why there is a shootout now anyway — so changing the points system wouldn’t be that drastic.

It’s a simple method, despite adding another column to the standings. Three points for a win, two for an overtime or shootout victory and one for the losing team in the extra sessions.

This move would finally mean mediocre teams wouldn’t get rewarded for keeping it close and heading to overtime, only to lose anyway and gain ground on neutral opposition.

It simply makes no sense that some games give out three points between the two teams and others reward three. Is an overtime loss really worth half as much as a regulation victory?

Right now, the NHL is the only pro sport that gives out points for the way a team lost.

And with an overtime or shootout win worth just as much as one in regulation, there is no onus on anyone to score before the buzzer in a tie game.

The most common argument for the current format is that the playoff races are so great and plenty of teams have a chance at making the post-season.

Are those the best teams, though? Wouldn’t the most qualified playoff teams for the post-season be those that record the most regulation-time wins? That’s not exactly right in the current format.

For instance, in a three-point system, the New York Rangers would be seventh in the Eastern Conference at this moment instead of back in 10th, where they currently sit.

The Tampa Bay Lightning would move from ninth to eighth, while the Montreal Canadiens would fall from eighth to 11th.

But this wouldn’t be a crisis situation for the Habs. All they would need is another regulation win — for three points — to leapfrog the Bolts for that spot.

In the Western Conference, only a handful of changes would happen in a three-point system, but they would still make a difference.

The surprise Colorado Avalanche would jump from sixth to fourth, a rise that would give them home-ice advantage in the first round of a playoff series.

The tight race for final playoff spots certainly wouldn’t change.

The Dallas Stars and Detroit Red Wings are hot on the heels of the Calgary Flames, but in a three-point system, they would also be trailing the Anaheim Ducks.

Instead of a one-point edge over the ninth-spot teams, the Flames would have a three-point cushion, but that could be easily erased by a suddenly hot team.

At the end of the season, the points add up to a much larger number than most historians would care for, but the long respected ‘records’ haven’t meant much since the shootout was brought on board.

When the Washington Capitals went on a winning streak earlier this season, no one seemed to complain that one of those victories came in the shootout.

When the Pittsburgh Penguins won 17 straight games in 1993, they didn’t have the benefit of getting a win after 65 minutes. Those would end in ties.

Some would say changing the point system would be confusing and they should have two for a win and zero for a loss. That’s all fine and dandy, but the NHL loves that its fans get pumped for shootouts and the extra point.

We could make it more complicated in a five-point system.

Five points for regulation win, four for overtime victory, three in a shootout, two for losing the shootout and one for overtime defeat. Admittedly, that’s way too complicated to sort out, although it puts an onus on winning in regulation, then overtime and gives out the same points per outing.

The three-point system is easy to wrap the mind around, and it’s used in soccer all over the world.

People are debating whether the NHL should allow its players to go to Sochi for the next Olympics.

Who cares right now?

They should be arguing why the elite NHL teams who play the best during the season don’t get rewarded for it.


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