The NHL point system is crazy.
How can a team that finishes 4 points behind another team end up 3 places behind them in the conference?
This was the case with the Phoenix Coyotes and the Chicago Blackhawks. It was also the case in the Eastern Conference where the Florida Panthers finished in 3rd place with 94 points, while the 4th place Penguins had 108 points.
How on earth does this happen?
The problem is that there are 6 divisions in the league; 3 per conference. The way that the system is set up is so that the top team in each division are automatically given the rankings 1, 2 and 3. This provides a major problem for several reasons.
1. First and foremost, this points system is a disadvantage to the league. Better teams play other better teams in the first round, often ruining the second round by providing poor match ups. If the NHL based their standings solely on points, the first round match ups would have been less balanced and the better teams would go further, aiding the revenue of the league.
2. The good teams have no reward for winning. Sure they still have home ice advantage during the playoffs, but the reward for Florida getting 3rd place is playing the New Jersey Devils, a team that had over 100 points. It more of a reward for New Jersey than for Florida, and New Jersey finished “lower” in the standings!
3. It is not fair to the good teams. It unjust for the good teams who played well all season to give them a lower place in the standings because another team plays in a poor division. The Atlantic and Pacific divisions are the weakest in the league. Does that mean the best teams of the worst divisions are better than then 2nd best teams of the competitive divisions? No; it certainly does not. Rewarding the poor teams in the poor division is not the way to do things.
The NHL needs a change and I hope one comes with the new CBA. Either a change or a lockout is coming, and I fear it will be the latter if some sort of agreement is not reached.