Woot! Tied for First Place!

...along with 14 other teams! How I missed staying up past my bedtime watching regular season NHL games!

I didn't get to see the game, unfortunately. Unwilling to blow money on a fancy cable package or unsightly satellite dish, I will regrettably be forced to sit through Leafs games night after night. Oh well, apparently that's the team Canadians everywhere - all the way from Hamilton to Kingston - want to watch.

It seems Richard Zednik is suffering a minor groin injury, which limited him to 6 shifts last night. Although Julien loves him on the third/checking line, here's hoping Jan Bulis gets to fill in for Zed on the top line with Koivu and Kovalev.

Note that the Leafs/Sens match was a three point game. I don't like these, for two reasons:

Imagine we're down to the final game of the season. The Habs are sitting in 7th place with a record of 40-32-10 for 90 points. The Leafs are playing the Bruins, and both teams have identical 41-33-7 records for 89 points. If either team wins in regulation, the Habs are in 8th and make the playoffs. If regulation time ends in a tie, the Habs are out of the playoffs. There's something wrong with that.

Offense is supposed to be emphasized, but these pity points for losing reward defensive play. I don't expect Gary Bettman would understand the math: The lower the score of the game, the more likely it is to end in a tie. If there are no goals scored, there is a 100% chance it ended in a tie. If 1 or fewer goals were scored, there are three possible outcomes: 1-0, 0-1, and 0-0. One of three outcomes is a tie. I won't break it down by probabilities because that would get messy. If two or fewer goals are scored, there are six possible outcomes, two of which are ties. Here's a table:

Of course, the number of possible outcomes will not equal the number of actual outcomes. There have been far more 4-4 games than 8-0 games in league history. However, I am sure there is at least a correlation.

So, the team you coach is guaranteed a point if you are at least tied after regulation time. You are more likely to be tied after regulation time if fewer goals are scored. Thus, you coach your team to limit the number of goals, even if it means giving up goals scored in favour of limiting goals against. Going for the extra point is too risky when you can sit back, get your single point then go for another in the OT/shootout.

I would like to see the league go with what was done in soccer: three points for a win and one each for a draw. No pity points for a loss, and games won in extra time are simply wins. Nice, tidy standings with comlumns labelled 'W' 'L' and 'T.'

Unfortunately, ties have no place in the *new and improved* NHL. The best we can hope for is three points for a regulation win, two for an OT/SO win, one for an OT/SO loss, and none for a regulation loss. Nice, tidy standings with columns labelled 'W' 'L' 'OT/SO W' and 'OT/SO L.' Ugh.


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