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LHH Power Rankings: Death of the Bettman Bonus Point Edition

Kill the Bettman Bonus Point. With fire.

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

OK this season really blows. I write one article a week (if I'm lucky), and I won't shirk my responsibilities, so here's the power rankings stuff. BUT, I want to use my time to start bouncing around a few ideas on something totally unrelated: How to get rid of the Bettman Bonus Point. So even if you don't care how badly everyone thinks (or knows) how the Islanders are, scroll on down to the bottom for a short thought experiment, OK?

Alright, business first...

Weekly Roundup of Opinion Polls

Site Updated New Ranking Prior Ranking Comments
SportsNet 1/11/2017 25 27 [On who is each team's MVP] "John Tavares, in a landslide — even though he’s having a down year by his standards."
ESPN 1/10/2017 28 26 GM Garth Snow keeps fiddling while the Islanders continue to smolder at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.
TSN 1/10/2017 25 24 One regulation loss in the past seven games is some progress for the Isles, but they're going to have to improve their possession game if they are to have any hope of making a second half charge.
THN 1/11/2017 23 21 After winning four of five, the Islanders lost back-to-back games on the road in overtime to Colorado and Arizona, the two worst teams in the NHL
Average 25.3 24.5 Hey, at least a tire fire will keep you warm during the winter!

Be a last place team, and get last place team comments. At least the LOLs of yesteryear are mostly gone.

LHH Power Rankings

For games through and including 1/10/17, so it doesn't include the latest frustration.

GP W L T Pts Rating
1 Columbus Blue Jackets 40 21 8 11 53 126.1
2 Minnesota Wild 39 21 9 9 51 125.6
3 New York Rangers 42 25 13 4 54 121.4
4 Pittsburgh Penguins 38 20 8 10 50 120
5 Washington Capitals 40 20 9 11 51 119.5
6 Montreal Canadiens 41 20 10 11 51 114.6
7 San Jose Sharks 41 19 14 8 46 111.5
8 Anaheim Ducks 42 19 12 11 49 109.6
9 Chicago Blackhawks 44 18 12 14 50 105.6
10 Boston Bruins 44 18 17 9 45 103.3
11 Carolina Hurricanes 41 14 15 12 40 102.3
12 Edmonton Oilers 43 16 15 12 44 101.5
13 Ottawa Senators 39 15 14 10 40 101.5
14 Buffalo Sabres 40 13 15 12 38 100.9
15 St. Louis Blues 41 16 15 10 42 100.8
16 Toronto Maple Leafs 39 13 13 13 39 97.8
17 New York Islanders 38 12 15 11 35 97.8
18 Nashville Predators 41 16 16 9 41 96.6
19 Tampa Bay Lightning 42 16 19 7 39 95.4
20 Calgary Flames 43 17 19 7 41 94.4
21 Los Angeles Kings 41 11 17 13 35 94
22 Philadelphia Flyers 43 13 16 14 40 92.2
23 Dallas Stars 42 15 17 10 40 91.2
24 Winnipeg Jets 43 15 20 8 38 87.4
25 New Jersey Devils 42 9 18 15 33 87
26 Florida Panthers 42 10 16 16 36 86.9
27 Detroit Red Wings 41 9 18 14 32 86.5
28 Vancouver Canucks 43 11 19 13 35 81.5
29 Colorado Avalanche 39 8 25 6 22 73.7
30 Arizona Coyotes 40 6 22 12 24 73.2

Last night's game wasn't included, so that our table could compare to the opinion polls with the same amount of data. Note the Isles actually show up a bit higher than anyone else gives them credit for. This is because four out of the top five teams are from the Metro, and the Isles have gained points in contests against those teams. Being in this brutal division helps the Isles, although that, too, is a misnomer. What this is actually implying is that if the Isles were in any other division, their quality of competition would be lower, and as such, they'd be much closer to a playoff spot than they are currently. At least that's the theory.

OK, About That Bettman Bonus Point

Today, the Isles are ten points back of Philly, who own the final wildcard. The Isles have four games in hand, so theoretically, they could be only two points back, if they win those games in hand. OK hold the snickering, please... this is a theoretical discussion! Yes, it's highly unlikely that the Islanders are getting to the playoffs.

Also theoretical: If the league went back to games being decided in regulation (win lose or draw), then the Isles would be chasing the Hurricanes, and would be only five points back with two games in hand. That would put them only one point behind if they won those two games in hand. Again, theoretical, but it shows that sometimes the Bettman Bonus Point actually puts teams at a further disadvantage, even before considering the fact that teams between the Isles and 8th place will play each other and potentially share three points rather than two, in many of those contests (especially towards the end of the season, as teams start playing more to not lose and less to win).

It has been discussed many, many times in many ways. The loser point (or whatever you want to call it) sucks. Some say it gives the appearance of parity, but that's not true. It gives the appearance of a closer playoff race, which is intended for keeping more fannies in the seats (those fannies belonging to either die-hards or brains that are bad at math).

But what if we could eliminate this system, and still give the league what it wants? I've thought up several ways we might be able to achieve that, so over the next few weeks, I'll postulate an idea. I'm looking to see if any of these will hold up to an informal peer review.

This Week's Proposal For Eliminating the Loser Point

Point (1) will be the same every week, for what it's worth. I'm also assuming 32 teams will eventually be participating. Small modifications would be required if it stays at 31.

1) All games tied after regulation will have a five minute overtime. If still tied, the game is over and is officially a tie. A shootout will determine a "winner" but each team gets the same number of points. The shootout record will be used as a tie breaker, after (1) more total wins, and (2) head-to-head records. That will keep it partially relevant, without actually affecting things except once a generation. People still get a winner, because for some reason that's important.

2) The season will be split into two parts, with the all-star break separating the two.

3) In the first part of the season, each team will play all other teams twice (amounting to 62 games). Two points for a win, one for a tie, none for a loss.

4) In the second part of the season, each team will play two games against it's divisional opponents (14 games) plus six games against the other division within the same conference (thus playing six of the eight teams). That's a total of 20 games during this phase (and therefore 82 for the whole season).

5) For this second part of the season, standings points are doubled. Therefore, each game will award 4 points for a win, 2 for a tie, and nothing for a loss.

Foreseeable "pros" to this scenario:

The League still gets close races at the end of the year. You'd have to suck pretty bad in the first 62 games, to not have a chance in the final 20 (which will award enough points to equate to 40 games). Teams can spend some time earlier in the season finding their way, without hitting the panic button, and then try to make moves before hopefully turning it on the jets at crunch time. Yes, I might be referring to the Isles here. But really it could be anyone, or even a well established team of vets. So what if you lose a few more games in November when you only need to win half as many of those in March/April to get back to even?

Many of the same fans that are sitting in the seats at the end of seasons currently, will continue to do so. It's much easier to get someone to understand that a 10 point deficit is only 2 1/2 games when the season hits the second phase, then to get that same person to understand that a 10 point deficit right now (with half the season to go) is practically time to call it quits.

Foreseeable "cons" to this scenario:

Some good teams might get bad injuries at the wrong time and fall out of the playoffs. They could have more wins than other teams who get in. The same people who are bad at math now (which is why they still have hope now even if their team is double digits behind the 8th place team), might use their bad powers of math to figure that their 10 point deficit with 10 games to go would be nearly impossible to overcome, and stay home.


There will be bad points for any change, of course. For the ones I listed above, I'll say this... There's always a team or two, each and every year, who probably deserve to be in the playoffs but aren't for some reason. This won't change no matter which system you use. And as for those people who still go to games now because the hill to climb doesn't look nearly as bad as it really is? I think eventually they'd come around. Any time you can speak of doubling points (or even bonus points, in positive terms unlike the connotation that term has right now), people start looking at the standings and thinking "we could get there."

At least in this scenario, nobody is kidding anyone. All games in each phase are worth the same number of points, and everyone knows the stakes going into the year.

OK so let me know what you think. I'm pretty thick skinned (not to mention thick headed), so don't hold back. What can you think of that would make this proposed system a disaster?