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Tell-Us-Strader: A Look at the New Tie-Breaking Procedure for Conference Standings

by Dave Strader / Arizona Coyotes
GLENDALE -- On a recent pre-game show with Todd Walsh and Tyson Nash, I mentioned a new rule for breaking ties in the National Hockey League. I could tell from their reactions, that it was either the first time they had heard it or it they hadn’t really thought about its implications.

Dave Strader
Twitter: @TheVoiceDS
As I spoke to several folks around the NHL and listened to comments on various NHL shows, I realized there is quite a bit of confusion regarding this new rule. Some people think the rule will only be applied if teams have identical records: that total wins still prevail if teams are tied in points. I spoke with the NHL hockey operations department to get this straightened out. Indeed, total wins don’t mean anything if teams are tied in points at the end of the season. It’s total wins minus shootout wins that will determine a team’s ranking.

I understand the reasoning behind the rule, it’s just that most newspapers and web sites simply list the standings with wins, losses, OT losses and points. Understanding why teams are listed in a particular order requires knowing how many shootout wins a team has and doing a little math.

Here’s a hypothetical scenario at the end of the season:

This is how three teams would have been ranked under old rules with these records:

W-L-OTL-PTS-(Shootout wins)

7-LA 45 33 5 95 (9)

8-Dall 44 31 7 95 (7)
9-Ana 43 30 9 95 (5)

Here’s how they would rank under new rules after shootout wins are deducted from total wins:

W-L-OTL-PTS-(Non-shootout wins)

7-Ana 43 30 9 95 (38)

8-Dall 44 31 7 95 (37)
9-LA 45 33 5 95 (36)

This is important for coaches to understand as the end of the season approaches. Imagine Team A playing on the last day of the season trying to catch Team B that has already finished their season: Team A is two points behind Team B and Team A already has more total wins. In the past, all they would need is a win - any kind of win - and they would tie Team B in points and move ahead in the standings. Now, there could be a case where a shootout win doesn’t help Team A. They would need to win in regulation or OT in order to catch Team B. Confused? You’re not alone. The last weekend of the season is going to be a blast. Get your calculators ready!

Thanks for reading.

Follow me on twitter: @TheVoiceDS
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