The 3-2-1, no really about the scoring system

March 04, 2019 - 2:03 pm

NHL GMs are meeting this week to discuss potential changes for the league going forward.  From clocks in the cornerboards to salary cap designation for suspended players, there are some issues that could be considrered big or small, depending on your perspective.


Perhaps they'll discuss what John Tortorella had to say about overtime and the shootout.  Torts says he'd like to scrap the shootout and play 3 on 3 until somebody dies.  Just keep playing... how long could it take?

This is a good idea.  

The NHL has struck gold with the 3 on 3 format, and should do everything to keep it and highlight it a bit more.  BUT... it would be improved upon still if the scoring system was flipped to a 3-2-1.

3 points for a regulation win

2 points for an OT win

1 point for a OT loss

0 points for a regulation loss


Regulation wins, where you earn the victory... should be worth more than OT wins, where the conclusion of the game is brought about by radical rule changes that are designed specifically to get a goal scored as soon as possible.  By rolling from 5 on 5, to 4 on 4, to now 3 on 3, the NHL has fixed the OT problem.  Goals are more likely to be scored, and the style and pace is tremendous.  It's a fun little exhibition they've got in the OTs these days.  But the 3-2-1 is still needed.

Here's why:

First let's talk about how are points doled out, and you can keep the shootout or get rid of it as it changes nothing for this point system:


Current System:  Currently 1 point per team at end of regulation / 1 point in OT/SO

66% of points awarded at the conclusion regulation tie, 1 to each side

33% as bonus point for OT/SO winner, 1 to the winning side

That means 1/3 of total points available in a game are determined via overtime or a shootout.


Second, let's tackle a talking point that gets it all very wrong: "Give me a winner and a loser!  What is this a participation trophy? What sense does it make to give out a point for losing?!?!" 

The answer is A LOT.

Winner Take All Format:  2 points for a win, and 0 for a loss

If a game goes to overtime, the OT/SO winner gets 2 points, OT/SO loser gets 0 points

100% of points doled out in this game would come via 3 on 3 or shootout.  2 out of 2 points = 100% points doled out when Alex Ovechkin beats the goalie in the third round of a shootout.  That is three times MORE than the current system where 1 of 3 points would go to the Caps for that same shot.  It only seems like a one point difference, but the reality is that it wildly OVERinflates the value of shootouts and overtime.  And the shootout and/or overtime format du jour are designed to entertain, and get us all out of the building.

When you talk about the “loser point” you dismiss that BOTH teams get a loser point, and then the winner of the 3-on-3 or shootout gets the overtime point.

Why is overtime breathless and exciting?  BECAUSE there’s nothing to lose.  If you were to ever remove the “loser point” then overtime would be about not making a mistake.  

We've already seen teams slow overtime down holding for the perfect shot.  If you could LOSE a point in overtime, it would ruin something good here. You’d be playing to get to a shootout, or perhaps bringing ties back?  None of this is what the league wants.  The “loser point” stays, and gets rebranded to be called the “regulation tie” point.  The “bonus point” gets identified as it is.  It’s not a real win.  It’s a tie with a bonus point.  And if you force that game to be determined, rather than allowing for ties, you've effectively changed the very nature of your sport.  A 60 minute 5 on 5 game could have no bearing on the standings but a 3 on 3 overtime would?  

The current overtime format is not too far removed from playing basketball with your friends, your dad calls you inside, and you say "next point wins".  Sure the basket counts... but ya know.  It's not exactly representative of the overall game that's been played.  No way.  Never happening, and never should.  A significant downgrade from the current system.


Third, the NHL is already moving that way.

At these very GM meetings the NHL is considering making Regulation Wins (RWs) the tiebreaker instead of Regulation and Overtime Wins (ROWs).  It is yet another indicator that they’ve figured out that regulation wins should be worth the most.  We've moved with the speed of a glacier to an obvious conclusion... shootout wins and overtime wins should not be worth as much as a regulation win.  The NHL is only ready to admit this in tiebreakers.  

It’s like they’ve almost figured it out…

The loser point is your friend.  The bonus point is the imposter that shows up pretending to be as cool as the regulation win.  Too much talk about the "loser point" being the problem and not enough that it's the bonus point that is living a lie.

 The 3-2-1 fixes this problem.


In the 3-2-1 

OT/SO win - 66% at end of regulation, 33% for OT/SO winner

OT win worth 2/3 of a regulation win.  The 3-on-3 spectacle is fun, and worth the same as playing a 60 minute tie.  

We already watch a league where third periods drift off and die.  Teams play for the end of regulation and the likelihood of a goal drops with just about every minute of the third period. 

In the 3-2-1, 3rd periods become MORE interesting.  If you’re a team that wants to push for the three points, you go for it.  If you’re afraid of teams “locking down” in the third to protect those points, explain to me how it would be any different than it is currently.  The teams that want to lock it down, do that.  Some decide to try to push for the extra goal, and the win.  If you would make the case that the three points is more important, then wouldn’t a team be just as likely to continue to push for another goal and lock up the win that way?  If the two teams are tied late in the third, and both lock it down... they'd be actively sacrificing the ability to get all three points in the game, a penalty built in to playing for the tie.

But "what about the standings?"  What about them?  Instead of being 9 points out, you’d be 15 points out.  Great… you also have the ability to gain ground faster.  You can win a game, and watch as the team you’re chasing in your division goes to overtime… and gets 2 or 1 points.  There are more ways to make up ground.  You can push for the regulation win.  You can pull your goalie at the end of regulation if you really want to push for the three that you might need.  “Three point games” wouldn’t be the bane of your existence, but rather a mathematical reality for every game.

Of course, the NHL isn’t considering it at these meetings.

But hey, according to TSN’s Frank Seravelli they are thinking about whether or not a team on the power play should be able to pick which side of the ice the ensuing face-off is on.  

You know, the big stuff.




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