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.

Phillies can exhale after bullpen nearly blows 10-0 lead

Phillies can exhale after bullpen nearly blows 10-0 lead

BOX SCORE

The moment when the ball struck first baseman Tommy Joseph’s glove for the final out of the Phillies 10-8 win over the Mets — dealing a major blow to their rival’s wild card hopes in the process — felt more like a collective exhalation than a moment of celebration (see Instant Replay).
 
Two days earlier, the bullpen faltered suddenly. A game-tying two-run homer by Jose Reyes in the ninth was the first body blow. The game-winning three-run homer by Asdrubal Cabrera was the knockout.
 
Saturday, the collapse occurred over the course of five innings as the Phillies let a lead that was once 10-0 slip away, one drawn-out at-bat after another.
 
Missing, of course, was the moment of impact in the proverbial slow-motion car crash, thanks to well-placed sinkers and four-seamers from Michael Mariot.
 
“The bullpen’s been sputtering,” manager Pete Mackanin said in an understatement.
 
Joely Rodriguez entered in the sixth inning with a 10-4 lead to face a string of lefties and it quickly became apparent that he did not have his fastball. A middle-in four-seamer that caught too much of the plate was slapped for a double by Mets shortstop Gavin Cecchini, his first major-league hit and a run. A second run scored when a little dribbler by third baseman T.J. Rivera died on the third base line, leaving Rodriguez with no play.
 
“He just didn’t throw quality strikes,” Mackanin said.
 
Even the normally-reliable Hector Neris struggled on Saturday. In his 77th outing of the season, Neris walked two straight batters and then surrendered an RBI double to Cecchini of his own which narrowed the lead to 10-7 and thrust the uncertainty of a save situation onto Mackanin.
 
Mariot was given first crack at the ninth inning one day after Mackanin said he would give Jeanmar Gomez a break from closing duties.
 
Mariot’s audition got off to a rough start. He gave up a pinch-hit solo home run to Jay Bruce — who had been mired in an 0-15 slump — with one out in the ninth and then walked Eric Campbell and Michael Conforto after a pair of grueling at-bats that lasted a combined 18 pitches.
 
The two hitters fouled off eight of Mariot’s pitches and took several four-seamers that just missed the plate.
 
“I was pretty upset about that,” Mariot said of the four-seamers that missed. “I was hoping to get at least a swing or maybe a call on those. Talking to [catcher] A.J. [Ellis], I think he said that they missed but I was hoping at least one of them to get called a strike.”
 
Gomez was up in the Phillies’ bullpen but Mariot ensured that Mackanin wouldn’t need to throw the recently-struggling closer back into the fire in a high-stress situation.
 
Mariot was able to locate his fastball when he needed to most. He fooled Lucas Duda with a two-seamer that the slugger popped out to Freddy Galvis and got Travis D’Arnaud to ground a four-seamer outside right back to him.
 
“I just told myself: ‘keep throwing strikes and good things will happen,’” Mariot said.
 
He threw just enough strikes to ensure that the Phillies didn’t end up on the wrong end of what would have been the Mets’ biggest comeback in team history.

Find great deals on Philadelphia Phillies tickets with TicketIQ. Buy cheap Phillies tickets with no hidden fees for all games on their 2016 schedule. 

College football wrap: Auburn upsets No. 18 LSU with controversial finish

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College football wrap: Auburn upsets No. 18 LSU with controversial finish

AUBURN, Ala. -- Gus Malzahn was ready to try anything to get a win for his Auburn Tigers.

Malzahn relinquished offensive play-calling duties. Following his daughters' advice, he traded his usual game-day visor for a cap. And then, when the clock expired and LSU players were celebrating an apparent last-second win, the Auburn coach put all his faith in a ruling he couldn't control.

Daniel Carlson kicked six field goals and Auburn beat No. 18 LSU 18-13 on Saturday night after officials ruled Danny Etling's apparent last-gasp scoring pass came after time expired.

Malzahn said he knew there were only zeroes on the clock before the snap to Etling.

"I was pretty confident time had expired," Malzahn said. "It was just a matter of going to the booth and confirming it."

Etling rolled to his right and found D.J. Shark in the back of the end zone on a 15-yard pass, setting off a short-lived celebration by LSU players (see full recap).

Hornibrook proves he's ready in Badgers' win over Spartans
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- By the time Alex Hornibrook's first start was over, there wasn't much question about whether he could handle one of the toughest road tests in the Big Ten.

Hornibrook threw for 195 yards and a touchdown, and 11th-ranked Wisconsin turned its early-season showdown with No. 8 Michigan State into a rout, beating the Spartans 30-6 on Saturday.

"You've got to have respect for a guy whose first start is against a Michigan State defense," Wisconsin running back Corey Clement said.

"He's going to come out the next game and do even better. I think he's just getting his feet wet."

The freshman quarterback outplayed fifth-year senior Tyler O'Connor, his Michigan State counterpart. The Badgers (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) were the better team in the first half and then outscored the Spartans 17-0 in the third quarter (see full recap).

No. 23 Rebels find their rhythm, beat No. 12 Georgia 45-14
OXFORD, Miss. -- Mississippi quarterback Chad Kelly faked the handoff and then took off running toward the end zone. A few seconds and 41 yards later, the quarterback had cruised through the middle of the Georgia defense and into the end zone untouched.

It was pretty much that easy for the Rebels all afternoon. Ole Miss finally built a lead it couldn't give away.

No. 23 Ole Miss rolled to a 45-14 victory over No. 12 Georgia on Saturday, building a 31-0 lead by halftime and a 45-0 advantage by midway through the fourth quarter.

Kelly threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns. Ole Miss (2-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) broke a 10-game losing streak in the series dating to 1996 (see full recap).

Dobbs rallies No. 14 Vols to 38-28 win over No. 19 Gators
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- This time, Tennessee delivered the comeback.

And in the process, the Volunteers took out 11 years' worth of frustration on Florida.

Joshua Dobbs accounted for five second-half touchdowns Saturday and No. 14 Tennessee erased a 21-point deficit to beat No. 19 Florida 38-28 and end their 11-game losing streak in the annual series.

"I didn't see anybody blink," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. "Nobody flinched. They just kept playing."

This marks the first time Tennessee (4-0, 1-0 SEC) has beaten Florida (3-1, 1-1) since 2004. The Volunteers had lost to Florida by one point each of the last two years despite leading in the fourth quarter of both games (see full recap).