It might be time for the NHL to again take a look at awarding three points for a regulation win, according to a recent study.
The study found that the league achieved its goal of having more games end in overtime by awarding a point to losers in the extra session, but that it did so at the expense of having games end in regulation time.
"Oftentimes what you see happen when somebody changes a rule, there is an unintended consequence of that rule change," said University of Guelph Prof. Alfons Weersink, one of three men who did research on the study.
The unintended consequence in this case was seeing more games head to overtime.
The number of games going into OT has increased from 20 to 25 per cent and the spread in the score between teams after the second and third period has become narrower.
"Some teams on certain nights will play for a tie and then go for it in overtime because they are guaranteed a point if they go into overtime," said Weersink. "This has resulted in less aggressive offence during the regular games. Changing the rules has changed the incentives and changed the way the game is played."
The study was published in the Canadian Journal of Economics and examined NHL games played between 1995 and 2004. Weersink worked with economists Anurag Banerjee of the University of Durham and Johan Swinnen of Leuven University in Belgium.
They compared the five years before and after the NHL switched to 4-on-4 play in overtime and awarded a point to the loser of those games.
A possible solution they presented to having fewer games reach overtime is to offer three points for a regulation win and two for an overtime win.
This is a scenario the league has considered as recently as February, when the idea was rejected at the GM meetings in Florida.
The main feeling there was that an unintended consequence of that kind of change might be more defensive play.
"They tried this in British soccer and everything I've heard is that it didn't make a difference," Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke said in February. "Teams would get ahead and then would shut it down."