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Sturm Blog: Points Are Important

by Bob Sturm / Dallas Stars
Bob Sturm
We spent quite a bit of time discussing the shoot-outs and the importance of getting that all-important 2nd point out of OT games last night after the Stars dropped one to Calgary that they could have and should have pulled 2 points.

I am certainly a little more emotional after games like that, and will occasionally think a bit "big picture" on things.

I see a goal with 0:49 left in the 3rd Period as a sign that this team is wasting too many points. If you waste too many points, then you either lose playoff position, or you miss the playoffs altogether. Either way, in this league where there are too many teams fighting over the 8 spots - I start stressing in early October over lost points. By November, I can already count a half-dozen points that have been lost by simple mistakes here and there. (This, of course, is easy for me to say from the press box, but I am just doing my job, right?)

Anyway, Dan was asking me on the Radio Post Game show how many points are required to generally make the playoffs over the years. I offered him my answer, but since I had not made sure my numbers are correct, I wanted to confirm my thoughts today.

Below are 3 charts. Because in the last 15 years, we have had 3 distinctive eras that made the numbers different for each era. I used only Western Conference numbers in my study, since of course, that is the conference we are discussing.

1) - 1995-96 through 1998-99: This is the era between the 50 game lockout season of 94-95 and the rule change that called for both the 4-on-4 Overtime and the possible 3rd point that could be earned with an overtime winner.

This was in a time when the NHL actually had this thing called a "Tie".  You may have to ask your father what it was, but it seems that once upon a time the sport allowed a game to end in this result if both teams could not settle it through the normal course of play.  I kid, because I mourn the loss of a draw.  It wasn't bad for those of us who didn't need a car chase in every movie.

Note: Each team is followed by its point total for that season.

Year #1 Seed #8 Seed #9 Seed 100 Pt Teams
95-96 Det 131 Win 78 Ana 78 2
96-97 Col 107 Chi 81 Van 77 2
97-98 Dal 109 SJ 78 Chi 73 2
98-99 Dal 114 Edm 78 Cal 72 1
Averages 115.25 78.75 75.00 1.75

2) - 1999-00 through 2003-04: This era was the period of time from the 1st rule change of the possibility of the bonus point and the rule change that assured there would be a 3rd bonus point when the rules changed before the 2005-06 season that stated that every OT game would have a winner with a shootout.

Year #1 Seed #8 Seed #9 Seed 100 Pt Teams
99-00 StL 114 SJ 87 Ana 83 3
00-01 Col 118 Van 90 Pho 90 4
01-02 Det 116 Van 94 Edm 92 1
02-03 Dal 111 Edm 92 Chi 79 4
03-04 Det 109 Nas 91 Edm 89 4
Averages 113.6 90.8 86.6 3.2

3) - 2005-06 through Present: This is the era of 3 point games for any and all games that are tied at the end of regulation, meaning that more points were being distributed on a regular basis.

Year #1 Seed #8 Seed #9 Seed 100 Pt Teams
05-06 Det 114 Col 95 Van 92 4
06-07 Det 113 Cal 96 Col 95 7
07-08 Det 115 Nas 91 Van 88 3
08-09 SJ 117 Ana 91 Min 89 4
Averages 117.25 93.25 91.0 4.5

The results are very interesting. I had no idea that before the rule change of the summer of 1999, it took really only about 79 points to make the playoffs. Then, it shot up to 91, and then to its current spot, where the #8 seed averages 93.25 per season.

The #9 seed, which is the best team to miss the playoffs, rose from 75 points in era #1, to 86.6 in era #2, to its present spot of 91 points. 91 points now misses the playoffs.

The #1 seed didn't move much at all, which tells us the good teams still win tons of games, and the OT rule changes don't affect teams that don't go to overtime to win. But the teams that are in the pack? Everything shot up.

And 100 point teams in the Western Conference? 1.75 to 3.2 to now 4.5 teams per year average 100 points in a season.

So, in today's NHL, to make the playoffs, you better plan on 93 points as the cut-off area that will usually get you in. Unless it is 2007, when Colorado missed the playoffs with 95.

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