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THN.com Blog: Loser point has run its course

Shawn Matthias' Florida Panthers would switch with the Montreal Canadiens in the standings if there was no loser point. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Shawn Matthias' Florida Panthers would switch with the Montreal Canadiens in the standings if there was no loser point. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

I said I wouldn’t do it. I told myself I’d leave it alone. But, after a nine-month hiatus, I simply couldn’t let it slide any longer.

After railing against it again and again and again and again I figured I’d said my piece, but I’ve come back with more ammo – five bullets to be exact – as to why the loser point needs to go…

STANDINGS WOULDN’T CHANGE
There’d be very little shuffling of teams in either conference with a straight win-loss system (without taking into effect tie-breakers). In the East, Montreal and Florida would swap spots at No. 7 and 9 and the Isles would jump Tampa into 12th. In the West, Chicago would move past San Jose into top spot and Minnesota would leapfrog Dallas and Detroit into ninth; Anaheim would overtake Dallas as well.

As an added bonus, the expulsion of the loser point would put a stop to unsubstantiated suggestions that it keeps the playoff race close because…

KILLS PLAYOFF RACE
As the standings currently sit, teams are packed slightly closer in terms of point differential than they would be without the loser point (a win-loss system would increase the separation between eighth and 13th by a single point in the West and two points in the East). But in reality the existing system makes it more difficult to gain ground or pass, since teams ahead in the standings are getting points two-thirds of the time they hit the ice.

For example: Under the win-loss system, if Team A is 10 points behind Team B and Team A goes 8-2 while team Team B goes 5-5, the spread between the two clubs shrinks to four points. But under the current system, a more realistic scenario – considering 12 percent of NHL games go to OT – would see Team B go 5-4-1, leaving the spread at five points.

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CODDLING
This is the core from where most of my disdain stems. Because most fans don’t realize a team’s relation to the .500 mark must be calculated using a points percentage rather than a winning percentage, it would appear as though 26 – 20-freakin’-six! – of the league’s 30 teams have a ‘winning record.’ That’s appalling and an injustice to fans (and even players) who are given a false indictment of their team’s stead.

DOESN’T HELP OT
The original intent of the extra point was to push teams toward ‘going for it’ in overtime, seeing as they already had a point in pocket. From as much as I can glean, however, most teams are happy to allow the game to extend into the shootout and let it be decided in what amounts to a skill-based coin flip. How else to explain nearly 60 percent of post-regulation games going to a shootout?

MAKES END OF REGULATION TIMID
Even worse, teams are now fearful of sacrificing the guaranteed point late in a tied game. This makes the final minutes of a regulation tie a battle of backpedaling with the combatants playing not to lose.

Ten seasons after the introduction of the loser point, too many unintended consequences have come to pass and none of the benefits remain. There’s no basis on which to continue this farce, no justification for this detrimental scheme. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Edward Fraser is the editor of thehockeynews.com. His blog appears Thursdays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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