February 18, 2008
(this picture has nothing to do with hockey, but is pretty awesome)
The charity point. That's what many pundits refer to the one point teams get when they lose in either overtime or a shootout. The NHL's Competition Committee gathered after the lockout and decided that awarding teams that made it overtime or shootouts deserved at least one point. Bollacks! Why do they deserve a point for just getting to overtime? When did the NHL turn into a game show and award "parting gifts"? By this logic, teams that lose in four overtimes during the playoffs should force a best-of-9 series rather than 7, because, well, they played a bit longer.
I'm very happy that the league got rid of ties and every game has a winner. Whether it's in regulation, overtime, or the shootout. There was nothing worse than investing 2-3 hours of your life into a game only to have the outcome end with no winner. Nowadays, even if your team loses in overtime or a shootout, you still gain a point in the standings. Sure, it helps your favorite team in the standings, but other teams gaining these points could also hurt your team down the road.
Dave Caldwell of the NY Times has a good article today about the charity point and how many teams play it safe come the third period of tight games in order to salvage at least one point for their efforts.
"Statistics suggests that teams are indeed playing it safe, especially later in the season. In each of the past several seasons, the percentage of games tied after 60 minutes has increased significantly in the late stages of the schedule.
Over the first third of the current season, 73 of 410 games (17.8 percent) went to overtime and beyond. That number increased to 93 over the second 410 games (22.7 percent). And the rate of games tied after regulation has accelerated still more in the final third: after 54 games, 15 had reached overtime (27.8 percent)."
If the league is looking to open up the game and make it more exciting, wouldn't getting rid of the charity point fit right in? Rather than watching two teams play safe hockey in the third period, it'd be an all out battle for the two points. With the standings as tight as they are, the second half of the season could be giving us fans some pretty intense and exciting games with playoff implications every night. Who wouldn't want that?
The NHL standings without the bonus point (as of February 18th). You can compare this with the actual standings as of today (NHL standings)
New Jersey 65
NY Rangers 60
(tie) Boston 58
NY Islanders 54
Tampa Bay 50
San Jose 62
St. Louis 54
Los Angeles 50
-Atlanta would actually be on the verge of a playoff berth
-Phoenix/Colorado would vault Calgary/Vancouver for playoff spots
-As of now, not a whole lot of change in regards to seedings within the conference. Some teams would move ahead of others, but a few do have games in hand on their standings neighbors.
-The Southeast Division leader would have a rightful place in the playoffs.