The NHL’s plan to realign teams into four conferences has been overwhelmingly positive. As with all things, however, there are some negative aspects lurking beneath the surface and for realignment, some of those worries are understandable. One big issue that comes into play is the NHL’s point system.
Without a doubt we’ll run into a situation where a fourth place team in one conference will have fewer points than a fifth or sixth place team in a separate conference leading fans of those teams to believe they got shafted.
The answer to those complaints will always be to “win more games” but in conference playoff races, a handful of points might make the difference. Just imagine what the reaction will be if say a team like Toronto, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, or New York missed the playoffs because they didn’t have as many overtime/shootout losses as the team ahead of them.
A team going to the playoffs because they made it to overtime more often than another one? Insanity. There’s no doubt the shootout is a gimmick that’s here to stay, but fixing the points system would alleviate these worries. The NHL should make it so all games are worth three points. Win in regulation and a team gets three, but if the game goes to overtime or the shootout, each team gets one point and the winner gets the third.
It’s simple enough, it works in International hockey, and it’ll ensure that coaches and GMs won’t have a coronary at the end of the season because they didn’t play enough overtime games. Teams don’t want the shootout to decide games or playoff races and making regulation wins worth that much more should be incentive enough to make it happen.