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The Effect of the Three Point Game

Hockey fans everywhere are always complaining about the three point game and the effect it has on the standings. In theory the three point game doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Some games only two points are awarded and in others three points are awarded and to many this seems unfair.

It's interesting to take a look at how the standings would look without the extra point being awarded. The eight playoff teams would remain the same but there would be some shuffling of the seeds. Of course this is all hypothetical because teams may have a different strategy if they knew they wouldn't earn a point for losing.

Rank Team Pts Pts without extra NewRank
1 Boston Bruins 100 90 2
2 Washington Capitals 96 90 3
3 New Jersey Devils 95 92 1
4 Philadelphia Flyers 84 74 5
5 Pittsburgh Penguins 84 76 4
6 NY Rangers 82 74 6
7 Montreal Canadiens 81 73 8
8 Carolina Hurricanes 81 74 7
9 Florida Panthers 80 70 9
10 Buffalo Sabres 76 68 10
11 Toronto Maple Leafs 71 58 13
12 Ottawa Senators 70 60 11
13 Atlanta Thrashers 64 58 12
14 Tampa Bay Lightning 61 46 15
15 NY Islanders 53 48 14

If Sabres fans had any thoughts that the extra point was hurting their chances of making the playoffs, think again. In fact the three point game has been to the benefit of the Sabres up until this point in the season.

For a couple of years I have been a proponent of making every game a three point game. I feel that it's important to reward teams for winning games in regulation as opposed to overtime. My theory is to award a team that win in regulation three points. If a game goes to overtime/shootout, the winning team would be awarded two points and the losing team would get one.

If the standings are reworked this way the Carolina Hurricanes would be the team that was rewarded the most. Of course the Sabres would still miss the playoffs in this scenario.

Rank Team Points
1 Boston Bruins 129
2 Washington Capitals 125
3 New Jersey Devils 125
4 Carolina Hurricanes 103
5 Philadelphia Flyers 102
6 Pittsburgh Penguins 102
7 NY Rangers 98
8 Montreal Candiens 98
9 Florida Panthers 98
10 Buffalo Sabres 94
11 Ottawa Senators 84
12 Atlanta Thrashers 79
13 Toronto Maple Leafs 75
14 NY Islanders 68
15 Tampa Bay Lightning 65

The playoff race is extremely tight with only a couple of weeks left in the regular season, it would be even tighter if all games were worth three points.

In almost every scenario the standings remain almost identical but that doesn't prevent the debate from raging on. People have made arguments for many different scenarios but the NHL seems content to leave things the way they are. Despite there being little difference in the standings and doesn't change the fact that it makes very little sense to keep the status quo.