Since the NHL paused its season on March 12th, the internet has been overflowing with possible ways to resume the season and arguments as to if the rest of the regular season should be played out.
Players like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin (captains of teams who were on their way to securing a playoff birth) are all in on starting the playoff immediately if/when the season returns. Other players, like Artemi Panarin, are not on board with this.
Panarin spoke to the New York Post about the pause: “If [the NHL] goes straight to the playoffs, the Rangers deserve to be there.”
Panarin is a leader on a team that was just buzzing when the NHL closed its doors that Thursday in March. The Rangers were 9-5-1 in their last 15 games before the pause. They currently sit just two points (79) out of the second wild-card spot, currently occupied by the Columbus Blue Jackets (81). And, worth noting, the Rangers have 31 regulation wins, tied with the Caps and Flyers for the most in the Metro.
As a New York Rangers fan that has been craving the playoffs for the past 3 years, this is certainly unfortunate.
However, while looking at the standings, it got me thinking about the importance of the “pity point”- the point you receive with an overtime or shootout loss.
What sticks out to me while looking at the wild card race is the ‘wins’ column- the Carolina Hurricanes sit at WC1 with 38 wins, while the Blue Jackets occupy WC2 with just 34 wins. Out of any team in a playoff spot currently, CBJ has the least amount of wins. In fact, there are three teams (Rangers, Islanders, Panthers) that sit out of a playoff spot and have more wins than the Jackets. So, how does CBJ get their points? They get them through overtime and shootout losses: ‘pity points’.
The Rangers have only forced overtime 10 times this season, putting 20 possible points up for grabs in these games. Because of this ‘pity point’, they automatically get 10 of those points. The Blueshirts have been solid in OT and shootouts this year, putting up a 6-4 record and getting 16 out of those 20 possible points. 80% of the possible points were earned.
Columbus, the team that occupies the Rangers much wanted playoff spot, has forced overtime 23 times. Therefore, in those games, 46 points are up for grabs, and they’ve already gotten 23. Columbus has the opportunity to grab 23 extra points. The thing is, Columbus is not a good extra-time team. They went winless (0-4) in shootouts this year, and won 8 of 11 games decided in 3-on-3 OT. The Columbus Blue Jackets grabbed 31 out of a possible 46 points in these games. Columbus only managed to grab 67% of available points, which clearly shows that the Rangers are a better extra-time team.
In the NHL, you can be 5-5-15 and still be at .500, in their rulebook. So, on paper (the standings), Columbus is looking pretty good with just 22 regulation losses, versus the Rangers’ 28. However, no matter the statistics and points behind it, a loss is a loss. Columbus’ total number of losses is 37, while the Rangers have 33. If you count overtime and shootout losses the same as regulation losses, the Rangers are ahead of the Jackets in wins and have fewer losses.
The thing is, 40.5% of the Blue Jackets’ losses are overtime and shootout losses. That means that the Blue Jackets are getting points for games that they don’t win 40.5% of the time. Just 15% of the Rangers’ total losses are made up of extra-time losses. (Arguments are made that “better teams” force overtime more. Both the New Jersey Devils and the Ottawa Senators had 12 overtime losses this season, 2 teams at the bottom of their divisions. “Better teams” are not anymore capable of forcing- and losing in- overtime than any other team).
I’m fully aware that the ‘pity point’ is not going to be leaving the NHL any time soon. I decided to utilize the international point system.
This system allows the pity point to rightfully exist, but its values regulation wins more. Here’s how it plays out.
Regulation win: 3 points.
Overtime win: 2 points.
Shootout win: 2 points.
Regulation loss: 0 points.
Overtime loss: 1 point.
Shootout loss: 1 point.
Here are the current Eastern Conference wild-card standings.
Washington Capitals: 90 points
Philadelphia Flyers: 89 points
Pittsburgh Penguins: 86 points
Boston Bruins: 100 points
Tampa Bay Lightning: 92 points
Toronto Maple Leafs: 81 points
WC1: Carolina Hurricanes: 81 points
WC2: Columbus Blue Jackets: 81 points
New York Islanders: 80 points
New York Rangers: 79 points
Florida Panthers: 78 points
I considered the Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, Detroit Red Wings (E) out of the wild card race.
Here is what the Eastern Conference wild-card standings look like with the international model.
Washington Capitals: 113 points
Philadelphia Flyers: 110 points
Pittsburgh Penguins: 109 points
Boston Bruins: 138 points (sheesh)
Tampa Bay Lightning: 123 points
Toronto Maple Leafs: 107 points
New York Rangers: 108 points
Columbus Blue Jackets: 106 points
Florida Panthers: 102 points
Carolina Hurricanes: 98 points
New York Islanders: 98 points
When you increase the value of regulation wins, you’re able to more accurately measure which teams win more and are overall better teams. I simply agree with Artemi Panarin: the Rangers deserve to be in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs if they happen.
This illogical system should not be keeping the Rangers, or any other team for that matter, from their quest for the Cup.
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