1. The world juniors is using the points format some people thought the NHL should have adopted when it came back from its nuclear winter: Three points for a regulation win, two for an OT/shootout win, one for the OT/shootout loss.
Here's the Northwest Division standings in the NHL's format:
1. Vancouver 19-18-1, 39 pts
2. Calgary 17-14-4, 38 pts
3. Edmonton 18-15-2, 38 pts
4. Colorado 18-16-2, 38 pts
5. Minnesota 18-17-2, 38 pts
The Canucks are no more a first-place team than Lance Bass would have been an astronaut if he'd been able to come up with the cash for that Russian space mission. (Hey, does that mean they're no more a first-place team than your Toronto Raptors? Well, yeah.) Seven of their 19 wins have been in overtime or shootouts, and every other Northwest team has games in hand besides.
Just for interest's sake, here's the Northwest standings using the world juniors' win-overtime win-loss-overtime loss format. Winning percentage is actually valid again, since three points are at stake in each game:
1. Calgary 17-0-14-4, 55 pts (.519)
2. Edmonton, 17-1-15-2, 55 pts (.519)
3. Colorado 16-2-16-2, 54 pts (.500)
4. Vancouver, 12-7-18-1, 51 pts (.447)
5. Minnesota 7-11-17-2, 45 pts (.405)
Do you think there aren't a couple people in the Flames and Oilers organizations who aren't aware how much the Canucks and Wild's freaky knack for winning in OT and shootouts is skewing the division standings, and in turn, who makes the playoffs? Granted, these are small sample sizes, and it could even out in the second half of the regular season.
2. Rory Fitzpatrick: Take it away, Jim Cuddy: You can't say we haven't tried... once again, the hockey world shows it's a little lacking in a sense of humour. Or as James Mirtle put it: "And, once again, the hammerheads of the hockey world will get their way."
3. Mid-season blahs: The world juniors and Spengler Cup are on in Europe. There are 10 tournaments this weekend in NCAA Division 1 hockey, along with a couple in Canadian Interuniversity Sport. Meantime, the NHL carries on with the same string of regular-season games.
Mark Moore made this point in his book Saving The Game: Why couldn't the NHL jazz up its boring regular season with tournaments during the season in exchange for losing about 10 games off the schedule (which almost no one would miss)?
Today's better games: Hurricanes-Sabres, 7 p.m.; Kings-Oilers, 9 p.m.
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