The 3-2-1 Point System

@Edbenhin walks us through what the NHL hypothetically changing to a 3-2-1 point system may mean for teams.

As many of you may know, there has been talk going around about the NHL changing the present point system to a 3-2-1 point system. That would mean that teams would get 3 points for winning in regulation, 2 points for winning in OT or a shootout and finally 1 point for losing in OT or a shootout. Now I have gone ahead and grabbed the Eastern Conference standings from last year’s 2015/16 season, and remade it to show how it would look like if the NHL had used the 3-2-1 point system. Credit for game data goes to

2015/16 Final Standings
1. Washington Capitals 120
2. Pittsburgh Penguins 104
3. Florida Panthers 103
4. NY Rangers 101
5. NY Islanders 100
6. Tampa Bay Lightning 97
7. Philadelphia Flyers 96
8. Detroit Redwings 93
9. Boston Bruins 93
10. Carolina Hurricanes 86
11. Ottawa Senators 85
12. New Jersey Devils 84
13. Montreal Canadiens 82
14. Buffalo Sabres 81
15. Columbus Bluejackets 76
16. Toronto Maple Leafs 69
2015/16 Final Standings with 3-2-1 Point system
1. Washington Capitals 165
2. Pittsburgh Penguins 142
3. Florida Panthers 142
4. NY Rangers 140
5. NY Islanders 134
6. Tampa Bay Lightning 133
7. Philadelphia Flyers 124
8. Boston Bruins 126
9. Detroit Redwings 123
10. Montreal Canadiens 112
11. Carolina Hurricanes 111
12. Ottawa Senators 111
13. New Jersey Devils 111
14. Buffalo Sabres 110
15. Columbus Bluejackets 102
16. Toronto Maple Leafs 89

As you can see from the results, the new system basically had no impact on the final standings. The only big difference regarding the playoff picture, was that the Bruins made the playoffs over the Red Wings. However, if you look at the real standings you would see that those two teams were in fact tied. This means that the 3-2-1 point system did have a big effect on the standings as no teams that were out of the playoff by a large margin actually made it. In fact it actually made the separation from the playoffs/no playoffs larger. The actual gap between 8th and 10th in the regular standings was 7 points. With the new standings, it actually doubled to 14 points! This means that it actually made it worse for those teams. So in my opinion, it is pretty useless to change the point system as it had no major impact on the standings. All it did was give the NHL larger numbers to deal with regarding points.

Some might say that if the NHL changes the point system, it would make the final few minutes of tied hockey games more exciting, as the teams would want the 3 points instead of 2. However if you think about it, near the end of the season when it is deep in the playoff run, teams would not try to open up near the end of the games to try to get 3 points when there is a risk of getting 0 points. Every point maters during that time period so teams would rather get to overtime and secure 1 point and then fight for the 2nd point. So realistically, the end of games would not change very much, if at all.

Overall, changing the present point system would be useless as in reality, nothing would change. Teams would still remain where they are and the last few minutes of games wouldn’t change. The only thing that would change is that the NHL would have to handle bigger numbers.


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