Mark Madden

Mark Madden

The Super Genius of Pittsburgh Sports.Full Bio



Here’s an excerpt from my latest Trib column: 

The Penguins have reached three-on-three overtime nine times this season. They have won only once during that phase of play, failing to do so the last eight times. The Penguins are 1-5 in OT, 2-1 in subsequent shootouts.  

That’s dangerous ground when you’re on the fringe of the playoff race. It’s also unacceptable for a team that has Karlsson and Kris Letang, two mobile and skilled defensemen that should give the Penguins a big edge three-on-three. 

To read the entire piece, click HERE

Besides their failure in three-on-three OT, the Penguins are damaged by a brutal power play. That's also detailed in the column. 

But something else is killing the Penguins. It’s beyond their control. 

It’s the loser point. 

When teams lose in overtime or a shootout, they get a point. That makes a game that goes to overtime or a shootout worth a total of three points. Games that end in regulation are worth two points. (The winner of any game gets two points no matter how/when victory is reached.)

Because some games are worth three points and others two, the standings are unbalanced. The loser point makes it difficult to make up ground. 

Exhibit A: The Penguins are 9-3-3 since Dec. 11. In that time, they made up just four points in the race for the Eastern Conference’s last wild card. The Penguins had trailed by six. After Saturday’s results, they trailed by two. 

The Penguins are mired in the quicksand of loser points. 

Origin edition: In the NFL, the owners dictate the playing method. They err on the side of entertainment. Keep the cash spigot flowing. 

In the NHL, the GMs dictate the playing method. They err on the side of keeping games and the standings close. Better to hold onto their jobs. It’s Canadian economics 101. 

It’s common sense to award three points for a regulation win, two points for an OT/shootout win and one point for an OT/shootout loss. Each game would be worth the same.

But the standings wouldn’t be as tight. So, no go.

2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition

Photo: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

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