While the NHL Considers Realignment, Let's Just Fix the Standings

While the NHL Considers Realignment, Let's Just Fix the Standings

The Flyers aren't .500. They're 11-11-1.

Eleven wins and 12 losses do not equal a winning percentage of .500.

This is likely why you'll never find winning percentage calculated in the NHL standings, because unlike in the NFL, MLB and NBA, it doesn't matter. It's also probably why the NHL's game recap didn't mention that the Flyers were ".500" anywhere in its text, as news outlets who cover the league put it in their headlines.

The NHL is sort of like the anti-Who's Line Is It Anyway? — everything is made up and the points are the only thing that matter.

We've actually been going through this same exercise season after season for longer than you may remember. The addition of the overtime loss is sometimes misattributed to the introduction of the shootout following the 2004-05 lockout but actually came into the league during the 1999-2000 season. For five seasons, NHL records were split into four categories: wins, losses, ties, and overtime losses.

The Flyers' persistent difficulties with the shootout aside, the postgame breakaway contest actually isn't the problem. That the NHL has operated under the belief that overtime losses are qualitatively better than regulation losses and therefore deserve a quantitative reward also isn't the problem.

It's that they've never extended that logic to regulation and overtime wins.

An extra point is awarded to a team that forces overtime presumably because that team could not be defeated in regulation. So if merely forcing overtime is an achievement, why isn't winning in regulation worthy of a greater reward than the standard two points?

For 13 seasons, point inflation has corrupted the NHL standings, making some games worth only two points and others worth three. From the league's perspective, that's a positive, as it keep more teams in the playoff hunt for a longer stretch of time.

But it's also devoid of logic. As long as the league is attempting to reshape its travel concerns with realignment, it should also take a look at fixing the standings. This particular suggestion is not new, but making every game worth three points (as in the model below) would alleviate all the concerns above while still rewarding teams who reach the extra five minutes.

Win = 3
OT Win = 2
OT Loss = 1
Loss = 0

Or we could just go back to having ties, even though the league thinks its fans are emotionally incapable of watching a game that doesn't decide a winner.

Some final notes related to winning percentage, it is semi-correct to call the 11-11-1 Flyers a ".500 hockey team," because they have won 50 percent of all the points possible. Consequently, a club could lose every game in an 82-game season, go 0-0-82, and still be .500.

Of course, no one ever makes that distinction. You're as likely to see an 11-11-1 team called .500 as you are to see an 11-11 team called the same. (But what about a team that opens a season 1-0-1, 2-0-2, 3-0-3 and so on?)

The Flyers play the Rangers tomorrow night in New York. If they win, they'll be 12-11-1 at the halfway point of the season.

After that, if they lost every game in overtime for the rest of the year, would they be a .510 hockey club at 12-11-25?

If the league won't fix its standings, the rest of us should at least change the way we look at a team's record.

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome Russell Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome Russell Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

OKLAHOMA CITY -- James Harden scored 21 points, and the Houston Rockets overcame Russell Westbrook's seventh consecutive triple-double to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 102-99 on Friday night.

Harden also had 12 assists and nine rebounds to help the Rockets win their fifth straight. Houston withstood Harden's 6-for-23 shooting effort.

Westbrook finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He has the longest triple-double streak since Michael Jordan had seven straight in 1989. The most in a row is nine by Philadelphia's Wilt Chamberlain in March 1968.

It was Westbrook's 12th triple-double this season and the 49th of his career. He is the NBA's active leader in the category and ranks sixth all-time.

The Thunder had won the previous six games during Westbrook's triple-double binge (see full story).

James moves into 9th on scoring list as Cavs top Heat
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 27 points to move into ninth place on the NBA scoring list, and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Miami Heat 114-84 on Friday night.

James passed Elvin Hayes on a driving layup with 6:58 remaining and has 27,315 career points. The four-time MVP was removed about a minute later and received a loud ovation from the Cleveland crowd.

Kevin Love, a game-time decision because of back spasms, scored a team-high 28 points and had 15 rebounds for the Cavaliers. He missed the morning shootaround but was in the lineup after warming up on the court about an hour before tip-off.

Kyrie Irving added 23 points for the Cavs, who have won three straight after losing three in a row.

Derrick Williams scored 17 points to lead the short-handed Heat, who have lost four straight (see full story). 

Schroder has career-high 33, Hawks rally past Bucks
MILWAUKEE -- Dennis Schroder scored a career-high 33 points and the Atlanta Hawks rallied from 20 down in the second half to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 114-110 on Friday night.

Paul Millsap had 23 points and 14 rebounds for Atlanta. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 18.

The Hawks, who ended a seven-game losing streak Wednesday with a win over Miami, trailed by 20 at halftime. A 40-point third quarter put them back in the game.

Jabari Parker scored 27 for Milwaukee. Giannis Antetokounmpo, in foul trouble throughout the game, had 14.

Atlanta pulled ahead 105-103 on Kyle Korver's jumper with 3:15 remaining, giving the Hawks their first lead since early in the game (see full story). 

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets top Red Wings to notch 5th straight win

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets top Red Wings to notch 5th straight win

DETROIT -- Brandon Dubinsky scored a tiebreaking goal in the second period and the surging Columbus Blue Jackets won their fifth straight game, 4-1 over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night.

Lukas Sedlak got his first NHL goal for the Blue Jackets, who have earned at least a point in 12 of their last 13 games. Cam Atkinson contributed a short-handed goal in the first period for Columbus.

Dylan Larkin's power-play goal in the second was the only scoring of the night for the Red Wings. Sergei Bobrovsky had 32 saves for the Blue Jackets.

Sam Gagner scored into an empty net with 13.9 seconds remaining (see full story). 

Staal scores in 6th round of SO to lift Wild over Oilers
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Eric Staal scored in the sixth round of a shootout and the Minnesota Wild beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Friday night.

Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker scored in regulation for Minnesota, which has won three straight.

Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk made 25 saves. He entered with a league-best .946 save percentage and 1.65 goals-against average.

Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had goals for the Oilers, whose four-game losing streak began with a 2-1 home overtime loss to the Wild last Sunday.

Staal scored on a backhand deke before Nugent-Hopkins fired wide in the sixth round (see full story). 

Raanta, Rangers beat Blackhawks, 1-0, in overtime
CHICAGO -- Nick Holden scored 55 seconds into overtime, Antti Raanta made 26 saves against his former team and the New York Rangers beat the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0 on Friday night.

Derek Stepan passed from the boards to a streaking Holden in the middle of the ice, and he beat Scott Darling on the stick side for his fourth goal of the season.

Darling was going for his second straight shutout while subbing for injured starter Corey Crawford but had to settle for another solid performance.

Raanta, who made his NHL debut with Chicago in 2013 and played for the Blackhawks for two seasons before he was traded to New York, improved to 15-0-3 in 20 career appearances at the United Center.

The 27-year-old Raanta had 17 saves in Thursday's 2-1 victory at Winnipeg, and coach Alain Vigneault opted to give him a second straight start over Henrik Lundqvist because of his recent play and his success in Chicago (see full story).

Oshie, Johansson, Grubauer lift Caps over Sabres
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- T.J. Oshie and Marcus Johansson each scored a goal, Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves and the Washington Capitals beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 on Friday night for their third straight win.

Jakub Vrana and John Carlson also scored, helping Washington beat Buffalo for the third time in 15 days.

Kyle Okposo scored and Robin Lehner made 25 saves for Buffalo. The Sabres have lost three of their last four.

Oshie gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead 6:43 into the second period when he lifted a shot from the right edge of the crease past Lehner. Jay Beagle drew two defenders into the corner and sent the puck back to a wide open Oshie for his ninth goal of the season (see full story).