Wednesday, October 26, 2005

No more NHL overtime losses!

A few years ago, there were still tie games in professional hockey, too many of them. Teams were playing to tie once they got into overtime. So the league created the "overtime loss" which had the same credit in the standings as a tie. That really annoyed the statisticians, but it was meant to encourage the teams to play all-out because there was nothing to lose.

This year, the NHL finally did the right thing and got rid of ties altogether. Now, after a 5-minute sudden-death overtime, there's a shootout (initially best of 3 shots, then round-by-round). So now, our standings are back to having 3 columns, Wins-Losses-OTL. But that third column is still unconventional and, I say, unnecessary.

Here's why. Before, the players would rag the puck around to make sure they didn't lose that precious point (for a tie). Recently, the guaranteed point (OTL) let them cut loose and go for the win. Now, without the tie, there's no need for the OTL point. If they don't play well enough, they'll lose it. They can't stall any more. So get rid of the OTL and just have a Win-Loss standings calculation like baseball.

No comments: