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The 3-2-1 Point System

from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,

For those who have labored through my hockey blogs at ESPN.com since September 2008, you know this issue is near and dear to my heart.

I’ve been a proponent of a 3-2-1 points system for years, as in three points for a 60-minute win, two points for an overtime/shootout victory and one point for an OT/SO loss.

As it turns out, Yzerman also feels that way.

“We switched to 4-on-4 overtime years ago which is entertaining, I have no problem with that,” Yzerman said. “The shootout is a roll of the dice, it doesn’t prove who the better team is. I just think, let’s reward teams that win in 60 minutes.”

But, and you knew it was coming ...

“But I don’t think it has much support around the league,” Yzerman said.

read on

Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink


WingMan's avatar

I would totally support this…  as it would restore proper reality to the standings and eliminate this fake sense of parity.  Plus, it would ensure each game played is worth the same amount no matter how the final outcome is reached.

In the end, the playoff races would be less tight, but it would give teams a better indication of where they really stand - and hopefully liven up the trade deadline once again!

Best of all, it doesn’t alter the on-ice integrity of the game - in fact it might restore some.

Posted by WingMan from The Q C on 03/02/12 at 07:49 PM ET


They should just do away with the shootout.  Or make a shootout win worth the same as a shootout loss.

If they want excitement, how about start calling some penalties so that the skilled players don’t get slowed down by players that can’t handle the puck.

Posted by Kel on 03/02/12 at 08:15 PM ET


Do it, NHL.

If you must resort to silly gimmicks to generate a satisfying result, do not compound the problem by distorting playoff races. The fans that pay attention to the standings are not so stupid as not to understand that a SO W is different than a ROTW.

Posted by Dave on 03/02/12 at 09:35 PM ET


2 points regulation win.
1 point OT or shoot out win.
0 points for losing in regulation, the OT or the SO.

Getting points for losing a game is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen in an organized sport.

It would be like an NBA team getting a half win if they lose by less than 5.  Or an NFL team getting a half win if they lost by a field goal.

It’s dumb.  Knock it off.

Yes, ties suck.  They make teams want to play exceedingly passively at the end of tie games just to preserve a point.  That’s why you make regulation wins worth the most, to incentivize winning when the teams are actually playing real life 5 on 5 hockey… and you can do that without allowing a team to earn a point for simply losing later.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 03/02/12 at 11:07 PM ET


HockeyinHD, I like your idea except I would still offer full credit for an OT win.  Agreed on the 0 point loss all around, for sure.  The reason for full credit in OT would be to further encourage teams to finish things before the shootout and get a hockey win.  I do understand your point that the ideal situation is to encourage regulation wins, but I think if OT and the SO are worth the same, then OT would suffer.

How’s this for an idea… as I’m sure you know, the current NHL uses ROW (Regulation/OT Wins) as tiebreaker.  In “my” plan, let regulation and OT wins both be 2 points, but make the tiebreaker regulation wins.  That encourages regulation wins over the overtime win, while still encouraging overtime wins over shootout.

Posted by GregAnnapolis on 03/02/12 at 11:33 PM ET


I’m good with a three point system, but if I think if you are going to make a change, go even more drastic and make it a 5 point system.

5 - Regulation Win
4 - OT Win
3 - SO Win
2 - SO Loss
1 - OT Loss
0 - Regulation Loss

Posted by pens fan in baltimore on 03/02/12 at 11:34 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

HockeyinHD, I like your idea except I would still offer full credit for an OT win

Same here. As long as it’s a skating win, give em 2 points.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 03/03/12 at 12:07 AM ET


HD: A SO loss means you tied the hockey game and lost the post-game contest. This would just encourage teams to dress SO specialists and suck the life out of close games to a greater degree. Consider how drastic the effect would be for especially good/bad/lucky/unlucky SO teams.

You say that other sports treat all losses the same no matter how they are obtained, then suggest making a win worth more or less depending on whether it is a 60min win. Does the NBA or NFL give a 1/2 win for close victories? It’s the same system you so detest.

Posted by Dave on 03/03/12 at 01:21 AM ET

Chris in Hockey Hell's avatar

No. No. No. You don’t give the winner more points just to give the loser a reward just for getting to the stupid shootout. You cannot reward losing. You can’t. It’s stupid. No offense to The Captain but I loathe this idea.

Posted by Chris in Hockey Hell from Ann Arbor, MI but LIVING in Columbia, TN on 03/03/12 at 01:27 AM ET


To that who said that you can’t reward losing, I would want to remind them that they didn’t lose any hockey game.  They lost a skill competition that should have never happened in the first place.

Posted by Kel on 03/03/12 at 02:08 AM ET

Chris in Hockey Hell's avatar

“They lost a skill competition that should have never happened in the first place.”

That’s an even stupider reason to give a team a point in the standings. I’m sorry, but as far as I’m concerned, there is no argument in favor of allowing a team to be able to advance in the standings by way of a loss. I’m as open minded as they come but I have not heard one argument that makes me think the ‘loser point’ makes sense.

Posted by Chris in Hockey Hell from Ann Arbor, MI but LIVING in Columbia, TN on 03/03/12 at 02:30 AM ET


Chris in Hockey Hell,

I think you and I agree: a shootout is a tie with a loser.  Then of course, two points for a hockey win.  This leads in nicely with my system of 2 for ROW, 1 for SO Win, and 0 for any loss.  What do you think of the idea of tiebreaker changing to be regulation wins instead of the current ROW?

In “math” terms:
Regulation Win > Overtime Win > Shootout Win > Any Loss

(Although I give same points to regulation and OT wins, I reward the regulation winner with tiebreaker.)

Posted by GregAnnapolis on 03/03/12 at 02:42 AM ET


Chris: The standings are supposed to reflect how a team performed over the course of a season. Two teams tied after 60+5 min should earn equal points. But some people didn’t appreciate that result and so we added the SO point for the “winner”. Consider a season series between division rivals, in which Team A wins 3 games in regulation and Team B wins the other 3 in a SO. Team A would be equal or better in every contest, and not be rewarded in the standings.

Then, the question as a viewing fan is: do you want to see the skills contest valued more, or less? Is a zero-sum (figuratively speaking) outcome so aesthetically important as to alter the on-ice product and nature of competition? The league did this already by adding the SO, but hedged the competitve advantage it created. Think about what eliminating the “loser” point actually does to how an organization will construct a winning team.

Posted by Dave on 03/03/12 at 03:12 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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