The One Where I Find Out That Statistics Completely Disprove What I Was Trying to Say In the First Place

You may remember (because it was less than a week ago) when I spent a lot of time ranting about how the shootout/overtime loss rule was skewing the way people perceive their teams. I argued that, by awarding teams points for losing, the NHL was artificially inflating teams' records to make it seem as though they were better than they actually are. I also made the argument that the supposed parity in the league was merely a function of mediocre teams staying in the playoff race by being awarded points for losing games.

Lucky for you, I wasn't satisfied with just spouting my completely uninformed opinion. So I did what any self-respecting person with way too much time on his hands would do: I went through the Eastern Conference standings and recalculated every team's record as though there was no such thing as a shootout and without giving them a point for losing in the five-minute OT. Needless to say, the results surprised me. (Standings are through January 11, 2007. You can click on the graphic to get a better view.)

As you can see, the standings would actually be even more tightly bunched in the Old NHL. In the real standings, the difference between second and 14th (i.e. second to last) is fifteen points, with the 14th place team (Florida) just five points out of a playoff spot. But under the old rules, the gap from 2nd to 14th would be even smaller, twelve points, and the Panthers would be just four points out of the playoffs. You'll also notice that, with the Thrashers and Rangers being the exceptions, most teams would be in roughly the same spot in the standings or higher in the Old NHL, further disproving my hypothesis that the NHL's Points-For-Losses program makes fans feel better about their tem than they ought to. In fact, it actually caused me to be more down on the Caps than they deserved. (Not surprisingly, the Caps are getting screwed by the new rules more than any other team. Note that they are the only team that is in playoff position under the old rules but not under the new ones. I choose to look at this as a league-wide anti-Capitals conspiracy.)

The moral of the story, kids, (aside from "The NHL hates the Caps") is that most of what I say on here is probably nonsense. Try not to be too surprised by that. (Although my point about the .500 mark having lost its meaning is still a valid one, as only six of the thirteen teams with "above .500 records" have accomplished the feat without the aid of the NHL's silly rules.)

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