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LHH Power Rankings: Post Cappy Edition, plus more suggestions for Loser Point Alternatives

But a coaching change isn't going to stop us from hating and attempting to kill the loser point.

Wash that Bettman Bonus Point right out of your mouth
Wash that Bettman Bonus Point right out of your mouth
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

What a difference a week makes……?

With the Isles sacking Jack Capuano, there is always the hope – however slim – that the Isles could somehow turn the season around and make a run at the playoffs. Our opinion pollsters aren’t too optimistic. Our own power rankings formula has the Isles just on the outside looking in (in an ideal world where the 16 best teams based on results and strength of schedule get in; alas, the Isles are in the supercharged Metro, so…).

This also once again brings up the opportunity to talk about the loser point, why it sucks, and how to get rid of it. More on that later. But first, the usual

Weekly Roundup of Opinion Polls

Site Updated New Ranking Prior Ranking Comments
SportsNet 1/18/2017 27 25 [#DescribeYourTeamInFiveWords] "Wanted: Supporting cast for Tavares."
ESPN 1/16/2017 27 28 The season is only half over, and already Islanders fans are pining for next season. Who pays for the disaster that is the current campaign? Someone will have to. Won't they?
TSN 1/17/2017 23 25 The Islanders were 6-3-2 in the past 11 games, but it still cost Jack Capuano his job as head coach. It's been an undeniably disappointing season but - check this out - the Islanders are giving interim head coach Doug Weight a chance to hit the ground running because his first six games are at home.
THN 1/18/2017 16 23 After firing coach Jack Capuano, Islanders GM said he was, "not hiding from the fact that it starts with me."…This is mind-boggling. [More mind boggling: That he still boosted them 7 spots, and ahead of the Rangers.]
Average 23.3 25.3 Things are really bad and wait what did they do?

By the way, none of my tables work in the new SBN editor, apparently, so whenever they take away the old way of updating an article, it might be a while before I post another.

Anyway, half the sites updated prior to Cappy's ouster. It's odd that THN raised them so high after beating Boston and firing their coach.

LHH Power Rankings

For games through 1/17/17

GP W L T Pts Rating
1 Minnesota Wild 43 24 10 9 57 126.8
2 Columbus Blue Jackets 43 23 9 11 57 125.6
3 Washington Capitals 44 23 9 12 58 123.4
4 New York Rangers 45 25 16 4 54 115
5 Montreal Canadiens 45 22 12 11 55 114.5
6 Pittsburgh Penguins 42 20 11 11 51 114.5
7 Anaheim Ducks 46 21 12 13 55 109.8
8 San Jose Sharks 44 20 16 8 48 109.5
9 Toronto Maple Leafs 42 16 13 13 45 104.2
10 Ottawa Senators 42 17 15 10 44 104.1
11 Carolina Hurricanes 44 16 16 12 44 102.9
12 Chicago Blackhawks 47 19 14 14 52 102.7
13 St. Louis Blues 45 17 17 11 45 100.9
14 Boston Bruins 47 19 19 9 47 100.5
15 Edmonton Oilers 46 17 15 14 48 100.2
16 Tampa Bay Lightning 46 18 20 8 44 98.3
17 New York Islanders 42 14 17 11 39 98.3
18 Buffalo Sabres 44 14 18 12 40 97.5
19 Calgary Flames 47 19 20 8 46 95.9
20 Nashville Predators 44 18 17 9 45 95.5
21 Los Angeles Kings 44 12 18 14 38 94.1
22 New Jersey Devils 46 11 18 17 39 93.2
23 Dallas Stars 46 17 19 10 44 92.3
24 Philadelphia Flyers 46 13 18 15 41 90
25 Detroit Red Wings 44 11 19 14 36 89.8
26 Florida Panthers 46 12 18 16 40 89.1
27 Winnipeg Jets 47 15 23 9 39 84.3
28 Vancouver Canucks 46 12 19 15 39 83.4
29 Arizona Coyotes 43 7 24 12 26 72.8
30 Colorado Avalanche 42 8 28 6 22 70.9

Why are the Isles listed so high, despite being dead last in their division? Well for one, being in that tough division makes for a stronger strength of schedule, so points earned against divisional rivals certainly help boost them up. If I dare make a slightly warm take? Despite Capuano’s system, which clearly did not fit the players he had on hand, the team would probably not look quite as bad if they were playing any of the other three divisions more often. Of course your possession numbers are going to take a hit when you have 4 of the 6 highest rated teams in your division! But I digress. I certainly haven’t defended Cappy much in the past few years, and it’s not my intention to do so now.

Death to the Loser Point, Part 2

After I posted part one of this thought exercise last week, I received a lot of feedback, both in the form of fair, critical analysis of my first proposal, and also lots of commenters’ own opinions on what should be done. So I’m going to pause my own proposals for this week and address everyone else’s.

Many want each and every game to have the same number of points awarded, no matter what time of year, and no matter how long you have to go to decide a winner. A brief rundown of the comments:

martylnd wants two points to the victor and none to the loser, eliminating shootouts and making OT go as long as necessary to get a result (while going from 5v5 to 4v4 to 3v3. In other words, just a W column and an L column.

Hintonio wants to go with the 3-2-1 system, which has been bandied about on the net a lot lately (and to be honest, was going to be one of my proposals that I was then going to shoot down myself). Essentially, everything is kept the same as it is now, except a winner in regulation gets one more point.

KinersKorner and Snowangledalkinuano both want to return to the glory days of two for a win, one for a tie, and none for a loss.

And Torgo gets credit for the most creative idea; awarding points for each period, as well as for the total (final) score. The aim for this one is to provide incentive for a team getting whooped 4-0 after one period, to keep fighting in the second and third periods, to claw back a few standings points.

While I long for something quantitatively fair like the ideas mentioned above, I never said this was going to be fair. I think I have to stress the point of the exercise more clearly (my bad for not doing this last week). In bullet form:

  • The League believes that the majority of fans want to see a winner at the end of each and every game.
  • The League wants people to still go to games near the end of the season, even if their team doesn’t have a reasonable chance of making the playoffs.
  • To deal with this, the League devised the current system, in which some games are worth three points, and others are worth two. It has the effect of making the gap between 8th place and, say, 12th appear rather small, but because the handful of teams between your team and 8th will all play each other a few times (often resulting in three point games), the actual chance of making the playoffs is rather small.
  • Many casual fans haven’t caught on to this yet.
  • All hardcore fans have.
  • It doesn’t matter if you disagree with the NHL regarding the first two bullet points. It’s what they believe and we are not going to magically change their minds.

Therefore, the point of this exercise was to find a system that would appear more fair to longtime fans, while still keeping everyone (both hard core and casual) interested and hoping for a minor miracle near the end of the season.

It is for this reason, that none of the suggestions above would ever be accepted by the NHL. It’s just the unfortunate reality we find ourselves in. To get the NHL to change systems, we must find a way to keep fannies in the seats at the end of a season, whilst making the system more fair.

There was one other commenter who came up with a variation of the current system that hardcore fans might be able to get behind, though:

fredelement suggested two points for winners in regulation or overtime, and one point for a shootout winner. No points at all for losers, no matter how long they keep the game tied. The pros to this is that, while not all games have the same number of points, it keeps things more simple and rewards teams who win while playing actual hockey. Shootouts become much less desirable as teams lose points just to get to that stage. The cons of course are that a team who plays even throughout 60 or 65 or 70 minutes now might not get any points at all, which might not sit well with everyone. When it comes to achieving close races near the end of the year, I would say that this could get the job done. You might be in 12th, and 7 or 8 points out of 8th, but if all the teams between your team and 8th play each other and end up going to the shootout, then less points are being awarded above you. A quick winning streak could put your team right back in the thick of things.

Ultimately, I think giving zero points to a team that stays tied through regulation and OT would get vetoed by the powers that be, but I do like this system. Perhaps awarding four points for all regulation and overtime wins (zero for losses in regulation or OT), two for a shootout win and one for a shootout loss might work. In that case, teams going to a shootout still don't get as many points as when they play hockey, but still get something. Meanwhile, wins in regulation/OT would be far more valuable, and could help close gaps. But again, if your team is 7 games out with 12 games to go, that's going to look bad no matter how you slice it (the 8th place team will have significantly more points). Again, this system, while creative and at least somewhat promising, still might not be enough to keep people interested in the last months of the season.

Perhaps fredelement’s system could be tweaked a bit in other ways. I’m open to suggestions. But again, you have to remember that if you’re going to treat all games – from the first of the season to the last – exactly the same, then you’ll have to get creative. You have to remember that the League has to be comfortable with it (in other words, that it’ll keep fans of teams outside the playoffs looking in, going to games late in the year).

My own proposal from last week, for what it’s worth, had some constructive criticism. Some are open to the idea with tweaks, others not at all. Some think that splitting the schedule into two phases could cause travel conflicts (I disagree), while others think that weighing the later games more heavily wouldn’t be fair to teams that play well earlier in the year. Totally understandable, but remember that the goal isn’t to be fair, per se. The goal is to give the League something they can get behind (aka a system that makes it possible for teams to move into a playoff spot near the end of the season), while removing the B.S. that they are currently force feeding us. Having the second round of divisional games (plus the few conference/opposite division games) worth double the points would achieve that, but I admit it’s in a very brute force manner. So, we’ll hold this one off to the side for the time being, and next week we’ll see what else I’ve come up with.

Thanks for sticking with this article for so long. Next week, we'll try my last two proposals, one of which apparently suggested by a certain general manager of ours (assuming he, too, hasn't been fired by the time this posts), and one based on european soccer.