The NHL standings system is under much speculation, and plenty of people believe the system should be amended. This includes the single-point ties that have long been a point of discussion, and often have massive standings implications.
The Chicago Blackhawks have earned one point in the past two games, against the Tampa Bay Lightning and St. Louis Blues respectfully. The Lightning got the best of the Blackhawks in overtime, while the Blues secured two points with twenty-one seconds to go in regulation.
This is arguably a three-point swing, which might not seem lot much, but is a lot thanks to the NHL’s system. Last season, for example, the last five seeds in the Western Conference were decided by five points total, and three points was more than the difference between the six-seed San Jose Sharks, who swept the three-seed Vancouver Canucks, and the eight-seed Minnesota Wild, who were easily dispatched by Chicago.
Albeit a small sample size, the trend continues, especially towards the bottom end of the playoff seeds. The season before that, three points decided whether a team got home ice as the four seed, and the six-seed Blackhawks who would have to play on the road in an unfavorable matchup against the Phoenix Coyotes, a matchup that the Blackhawks eventually lost.
Going back even another year, the Blackhawks depended on every point they could get, ending up as an eight seed in defense of their Stanley Cup. However, three points also made a difference the other way, as if the ‘Hawks had earned three more points, they could have earned home ice with a four seed and altered the playoff picture dramatically.
Now, this is all incredibly hypothetical and yes, a bit daft. Every team goes through struggles and has issues with scheduling that creates difficult-to-win games. But, regardless of how large it is, a hole exists due to points that are left on the table. Although it is unlikely the Blackhawks will need every point possible to make the playoffs due to their immense talent, it will be frustrating to look back when the playoff picture is shaping up knowing that once again, three points could have made all the difference in the world.
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