Nick Ahlfeld, Massena, N.Y.
A lot of people are opposed to the extra point awarded to the loser of a game that ends in overtime or a shootout. We’ve heard them all by now from they-shouldn’t-get-something-for-losing to it-alters-the-playoff-picture. They feel the loser should go home empty-handed regardless of how the game ends.
When the NHL first awarded one point for overtime losses in 1999, I was all for it. Between then and now, I have been on the fence from time to time, but today I think the current system is the best possible solution.
First, there’s the issue of opening up the play. Will teams really take more chances with five minutes left in regulation while the game is tied knowing they will only get points for a win or will they tighten up and wait for that right opportunity to win the game (that might never present itself) before the shootout? I think they’ll tighten up and wait for the right opportunity rather than risking an odd-man rush their way, losing the game and going home with no points.
Then, there’s the issue with the playoff picture. People have argued that a team can finish in eighth place ahead of a team that has more wins and less overtime/shootout losses (see Boston/Carolina, 2007-08) which should not be the way a team qualifies for the playoffs.
However, if teams are only awarded points for wins, how long would it take fans to point out that a team who finishes in ninth place that lost more of their games in overtime or the shootout than a team who finishes in eighth place should qualify for the playoffs because they played well enough more often to get to overtime or the shootout? Probably not very long.