The three-point system should be considered by the NHL

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The NHL is a league of its own in many ways. It is the best league in the world and it’s the pinnacle of hockey for a reason. It often commands the direction of hockey, but in some areas, its stubbornness to be different from the rest of the leagues around the world hurts its integrity. One of these areas is in the point system that the NHL uses.

European hockey uses a three-point system, which makes it more prestigious to win in regulation rather than a win in overtime, the NHL counts both as the same. A win grants the team two points in the standings. This brings confusion and a feeling of the league being outdating and sometimes plain unfair when you look at the standings and a three-point system would easily fix that.

How Would The NHL Change With A Three-Point System?

First and foremost, it is important to stress that nothing major would change. The system is not going to suddenly make a bad team a contender or make a contender bad. The standings are mostly the same and the divisions would remain close. Below you will see a picture of the standings would look with the European point system in place after the games played on the seventh of March 2021.

The only difference in the playoff race if the regular season ended on the eighth of march would be that the Philadelphia Flyers would overtake the Pittsburgh Penguins in the eastern division. Something they could absolutely do anyways due to the games in hand.

In the current system teams like the Flyers are losing out, despite having won a lot of their games in regulation. The Penguins on the other hand have won two fewer games in regulation, but due to their ability to win games in overtime are two points ahead of the Flyers in the standings. While the ability to win games in tight is impressive and should be praised, something is amiss.

Photo by Dinur Blum (@rabbi_d)

The Penguins have picked up seven wins in regulation and seven wins in overtime. In total, this gives them 14 wins in the season. Nearly the same as the Edmonton Oilers who have won 14 games in regulation and only one in overtime. Guess how many points ahead the Oilers are in the standings?

In Europe, it would be eight points. A near three-game difference. In the NHL it’s only one single point. In what fair league does that make sense that a team can win the same number of games in regulation as the other team has won in total and still be a single point ahead?

All Games Should Count For The Same Amount Of Points

The reason for the Penguins and Oilers is only separated by a single is the fact that a win counts for two points regardless of the fashion it is won by. The only difference is the fact that the other team also gets a point in the process if the game were to go into overtime. Especially this season, with only divisional matchups, that point is massive.

It does, however, bring forth the question as to where the point comes from. Normally a game in the NHL counts for two points. The winner takes them and back in the day when a game could be tied, both teams shared the two points. While far from perfect, it made some sense, and all games had the same amount of points up for grabs.

Photo by Dinur Blum

With the removal of the tie, things changed and suddenly overtime games have an added point up for grabs. When the score is tied and the game reaches 60 minutes of play, an extra point magically appears and makes the game more valuable than other games. In terms of fairness in the league, it honestly should absurd. The easiest way around this would have been making all games have three points up for grabs by implementing the European model.

With the three-point system, All games count for the same and all it does brings more prestige into winning in regulation. If you win in regulation you can make huge gains in the standing while overtime thrillers also are reflected that in the standings by only slightly extending or reducing the gap between the teams.

New Perspectives For The Playoff Race

This also brings a new perspective into the playoff race. Imagine the scenario where let’s say The Montreal Canadiens are only two points up on the Calgary Flames with one game left in the season against each other. Montreal holds the tiebreaker, so under the current system, all the drama is gone. Here Montreal suddenly is far from safe and needs a point to clinch, while Calgary needs to bring home all three points.

Photo by Dinur Blum

Let us say that the game tied with two minutes left. Darryl Sutter pulls Jacob Markstrom in a desperate attempt to score. All the chips are on the line and the world of hockey is glued to the screen. This is a must-watch game. Why would you not want that?

The pure moment that this game would bring could be the story to tell your grandkids about. It would be a game that could go down in history and it’s a lot more likely to arrive in a three-point system than the current one. So after this season, let’s update the point system to one that’s fair and embraces the magical moments that it creates.

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