by Jon Jordan on 03/30/11 at 01:04 PM ET
My initial plans for last night/this morning called for a Tampa Bay Lightning playoff-clinching column but, while the Bolts held up their end of the bargain, those pesky Carolina Hurricanes didn’t cooperate, toppling the Washington Capitals in a shootout.
Instead, I’ll toss out some quick food for thought today, stemming from a press box discussion last night as we sifted through every possible combination and computation related to clinching scenarios and tiebreakers and so on and so forth.
I’ve moaned about three-point games already this season but, as we subtracted a point from Tampa Bay’s magic number when Carolina and Washington were knotted after regulation, carried the one when the ‘Canes prevailed in the shootout, multiplied by six when the Lightning one and determined the square root of the product thereof (or, um, something), another angle of the ridiculousness of the loser point struck me.
This is just far too complicated.
Now, granted, I’m not quite as much of a math idiot as I exaggerate myself to be at times and, no, it really isn’t that difficult to figure out (so long as you’re focused… And sober… And, last night, I was both) but, were games worth a concrete total of two points, as they should be, instead of three (sometimes), we would all be that much better off.
And my basic plan for simplifying all of this was once again spoken aloud, as it will be penned here:
Two points for a win, zero for (any) loss and one (each) for our old friend, the tie.
(In hindsight, tie, I never hated you. I just didn’t know any better. Grown-up JJ can now admit as much – and I apologize. Grandpa was right, after all. The grass is not always greener…)
Still, to discourage the tie, since so many would still argue against its return (because they don’t know any better, just as I once didn’t), we will likely have to go past one single overtime period – the subject of much debate in recent years during arguments over the shootout.
Limitless overtimes are not an option. Regular season travel schedules prohibit as much.
And extending to a second period of three-on-three after the initial four-on-four OT would bastardize the game and cheapen the result.
So, you keep things simple. Five-on-five for the first OT, four-on-four for the second.
With the additional overtime period, you’re extending the game, at most, just as long as you would via the shootout and you’re getting a natural, acceptable result, even if that means a tie.
Of course, this will never happen.
Somewhere, somebody (who matters) is convinced that the fans love the shootout (which, to some extent, is probably true, though that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for the game) and that will remain the trump card.
But, man, do I miss the simplicity of winners and losers (and tie-ers)!
What say you?
I was a little peeved last night when the 3-2 final score of Carolina over Washington (via shootout: hiss, hiss/boo, boo) and the St. Pete Times Forum crowd cheered in approval. Of course, the Lightning needed Carolina to lose in regulation in conjunction with their own win over Ottawa to clinch their first playoff spot in four years.
This was news, apparently, to most fans in attendance, however.
But, before I go offending anyone, I’ll give some benefit of the doubt scenarios first:
A) Lightning fans hate the Capitals and any loss is a good one, ergo.
B) They’re thinking Southeast Division title which, with a six-point deficit, is less than likely, to be nice about it but, hey, hooray for optimism.
C) They’re just so used to rooting against Washington that there was a collective, momentary lapse in judgment.
Sadly, I fear that option D may be the most likely:
D) They just aren’t paying close enough attention.
Look, it’s not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things and, personally, I don’t care. Root how you like. But, as a group, us Florida hockey folk have long been defensive about those north of us saying we don’t know what we’re talking about when it comes to the sport and, if you want to be taken seriously, you have to avoid looking like, well, you don’t know what you’re talking about!
I’m not judging. It’s cool, I promise.
But they will. And you’ll resent it.
Looking ahead, gang, to avoid any further missteps, if you want the Lightning to clinch as soon as possible, you want Carolina to lose tonight in regulation to Montreal. If they get even a point, the Bolts will need at least one of their own on Thursday when Pittsburgh visits to make their playoff berth official.
(So, on the flip side, if you want to see the Lightning clinch at home – and that’s okay, I understand if you do – you want Carolina to at least make it to overtime.)
No matter what, come Thursday, it will be as simple as these things get: You get to root for the home team to win. They’ll either be in the playoffs already or that desired end result will get them there.
But I’d be lying if I said the majority response to last night’s Carolina/Washington final didn’t hurt my heart a little.
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