Hockey Jargon

Cracking the Code of Hockey Standings: Understanding ROW and Point Systems

The Intricate World of Hockey Standings: Understanding ROW and Point SystemsAre you a hockey enthusiast who gets excited about the nail-biting competition that unfolds on the ice? Have you ever wondered how teams are ranked in the standings?

In this article, we will delve into the world of hockey standings and focus on two main topics: the definition of ROW in hockey standings and the point system used in the NHL. By the end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of these concepts and how they influence playoff positions.

1) Definition of ROW in Hockey Standings:

1.1 Meaning and Calculation of ROW:

ROW stands for “Regulation plus Overtime Wins” and is used as a tiebreaker in hockey standings. It represents the number of games a team has won in regulation time or during overtime.

Let’s break it down further. In hockey, each game can have three possible outcomes: a regulation win, an overtime win, or a shootout win.

– A regulation win occurs when a team wins within the designated three periods of play. – An overtime win takes place when a team wins during the 5-minute overtime period.

– A shootout win happens when a team triumphs in the shootout round after the overtime period. To calculate ROW, we add the number of regulation wins and overtime wins.

In simple terms, ROW determines which team has won the most games during regulation and overtime, excluding shootouts. 1.2 Purpose of ROW in Determining Playoff Positions:

As exciting as it would be to have every game end with a decisive winner, there are instances where tie games occur.

This is where ROW proves its importance. In the event of a tie in the overall points collected by two or more teams, ROW acts as the first tiebreaker.

The team with a higher ROW gets the advantage in playoff positioning. Why is ROW used as a tiebreaker?

It provides a fair approach to determining team rankings, as it rewards teams that have consistently achieved success within regulation and overtime. This tiebreaker emphasizes a team’s ability to win in regular gameplay rather than relying on shootouts, which some argue have a significant element of luck.

2) Point System in the NHL Standings:

2.1 Different Outcomes and Corresponding Points:

The NHL uses a point system to keep track of teams’ performance throughout the season. Each game has a maximum of two points up for grabs, regardless of the outcome.

Here’s how the point system works:

– Regulation Win: A team earns two points for a victory in regulation time. – Regulation Loss: If a team loses in regulation, they earn zero points.

– Overtime Win: A team that wins during the overtime period is awarded two points, and the losing team receives one point. – Overtime Loss: If a team loses during overtime, they earn only one point.

– Shootout Win: When a team wins during the shootout, they receive two points, while the losing team earns only one point. – Shootout Loss: A team that loses during the shootout earns just one point.

2.2 Significance of Zero Points and Points Distribution:

One interesting aspect of the point system is that teams can receive zero points for a regulation loss. This emphasizes the importance of winning games outright and avoiding losses in regular time.

In a highly competitive league like the NHL, every point matters, and zero points can have severe consequences for a team’s playoff hopes. An intriguing aspect of the point system is the distribution of points.

It rewards teams for pushing the game into overtime or a shootout, ensuring that both teams receive points for their efforts. This system encourages competitive play until the very end, as even a team losing in overtime or the shootout still obtains a point.


Understanding the intricacies of ROW and the point system in hockey standings is essential for any true hockey fan. ROW acts as a tiebreaker, rewarding teams that consistently win in regulation and overtime.

The point system, on the other hand, ensures that teams are rewarded for their efforts even if they don’t secure a victory within the allotted time. By familiarizing ourselves with these concepts, we can better comprehend the playoff positioning and the nail-biting action that unfolds on the ice.

3) Significance and History of ROW in NHL Standings:

3.1 Inequality of Different Ways to Win a Hockey Game:

When it comes to determining team rankings, the NHL faced a challenge due to the inequality of the different ways a hockey game could be won. In the past, shootouts were not part of the game, and ties were more common.

However, with the introduction of shootouts, teams had a new opportunity to secure a victory beyond regulation and overtime. The problem arose when shootouts were given the same value as regulation and overtime wins.

This created an inherent inequality, as shootout wins did not reflect a team’s ability to outperform their opponents in regular gameplay. The NHL recognized the need to address this issue and sought a fair solution to determine playoff positions.

3.2of ROW as a Tiebreaker for Legitimacy:

In 2005, the NHL made a significant change to its tiebreaking procedures by introducing ROW as the first tiebreaker. This decision aimed to ensure that teams earning wins during regulation and overtime were given more weight in the standings and playoff positioning.

ROW was seen as a way to legitimize the tiebreaker process by rewarding teams for their success in traditional hockey gameplay. The introduction of ROW was met with mixed reactions.

Some fans embraced the new tiebreaker, as it placed more emphasis on teams winning games in regulation and overtime. Traditionalists argued that the introduction of shootouts had already deviated from hockey tradition, and adding ROW further distanced the sport from its roots.

Nonetheless, ROW has become an established part of the NHL standings and has influenced team rankings ever since. 4) Examples of ROW in the Standings:

4.1 Comparison of ROW Between Teams in the Standings:

To illustrate the significance of ROW, let’s look at a hypothetical scenario involving the Chicago Blackhawks and the Dallas Stars.

Both teams have accumulated a total of 80 points over the season. However, in the ROW column, the Blackhawks have 32 wins, while the Stars have 28 wins.

This disparity in ROW becomes crucial when the standings are tight, and teams are vying for playoff spots. With the same number of points, the Blackhawks hold the advantage due to their higher number of ROW wins.

This indicates that the Blackhawks have had more success in winning games during regulation and overtime, which strengthens their playoff position. 4.2 Impact of ROW on Playoff Eligibility:

The significance of ROW becomes even more pronounced when we examine specific cases of teams fighting for playoff eligibility.

Let’s take the Edmonton Oilers and the Colorado Avalanche as examples. If both teams have the same number of points, the tiebreaker of ROW comes into play.

The ROW statistic acts as a determining factor for which team deserves the higher playoff seed. In this scenario, the team with a higher number of ROW wins will have the advantage and ultimately secure a more favorable playoff position.

ROW can have a tremendous impact on a team’s playoff aspirations. It provides an additional incentive to win games in regulation and overtime rather than relying on the shootout.

This encourages teams to strive for victory within the traditional confines of the game, upholding its core values. In conclusion, ROW serves as an essential tiebreaker in hockey standings, emphasizing a team’s ability to win games during regulation and overtime.

Its introduction solved the problem of inequality caused by different ways to secure a victory in the sport, providing a legitimate basis for determining playoff positions. By examining specific examples and understanding how ROW influences standings and playoff eligibility, we gain a deeper appreciation for the intricacies involved in ranking teams in the NHL.

5) Tiebreakers for Teams Tied in ROW:

5.1 First Tiebreaker: Head-to-Head Points:

In the complex world of hockey standings, teams can often find themselves tied in ROW, making it necessary to employ further tiebreakers. The first tiebreaker beyond ROW is head-to-head points.

Head-to-head points refers to the total number of points a team has accumulated against the tied opponent(s) in their direct matchups throughout the season. When teams have the same number of ROW wins and are tied in points, head-to-head points can help determine which team gets the upper hand.

For example, if Team A and Team B are tied in both ROW and points, their head-to-head records become crucial. Let’s say Team A has earned five points in their head-to-head matchups against Team B, while Team B has only secured three.

In this case, Team A would be given the advantage in the standings. Head-to-head points serve as a valuable tiebreaker because they directly reflect a team’s performance against a specific opponent.

It rewards a team for its success against that particular rival and adds an extra dimension to the standings calculations. 5.2 Second Tiebreaker: Goals Scored and Goals Allowed Differentials:

If teams remain tied after the head-to-head tiebreaker, further tiebreakers are implemented to separate them.

One such tiebreaker is the comparison of goals scored and goals allowed differentials. This tiebreaker takes into account the number of goals a team has scored and the number they have allowed throughout the season.

Goals scored represents a team’s offensive prowess, while goals allowed showcases their defensive capabilities. By comparing these differentials, we can gain insights into a team’s overall performance.

For example, if Team A has scored 200 goals and allowed 180, their differential would be +20. On the other hand, if Team B has scored 190 and allowed 170, their differential would be +20 as well.

When teams are tied in ROW, points, and head-to-head points, the goals scored and goals allowed differentials become crucial in determining which team gets the advantage. The team with the higher goal differential takes precedence in the standings, as it demonstrates their ability to both score goals effectively and defend their net.

This tiebreaker is significant because it rewards teams that have been more dominant in terms of goal production and defensive capabilities. It provides a deeper analysis of a team’s overall performance and can serve as a tiebreaker in the most competitive playoff races.

It’s important to note that tiebreakers beyond ROW, head-to-head points, and goal differentials can vary based on the league or tournament rules. In some cases, further tiebreakers may involve overtime wins, shootout wins, or even a coin toss.

In conclusion, when teams are tied in ROW, additional tiebreakers come into play, ensuring fairness and accuracy in determining standings and playoff eligibility. Head-to-head points provide a direct comparison of teams’ performances against each other, while goal differentials consider a team’s offensive and defensive capabilities throughout the season.

These tiebreakers add layers of analysis and contribute to the excitement and competitiveness of hockey standings. In conclusion, understanding the concept of ROW and the tiebreakers used in hockey standings is crucial for fans and teams alike.

ROW emphasizes a team’s success in regulation and overtime, ensuring fairness in playoff positioning. Head-to-head points and goal differentials further separate tied teams, considering their performances against each other and their offensive and defensive capabilities.

These tiebreakers provide a deeper analysis and add excitement to the sport. As you follow the standings and playoff races, remember the significance of ROW and the tiebreakers in determining team rankings.

Hockey is not only about winning games but also about consistently excelling in gameplay and showcasing overall performance.

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