Tie-breaker weirdness: Kings are 4-2-2 in games that DON’T COUNT


Reader Jerold Stevens pointed out in the comments something that hadn’t occurred to me at all. Namely, because several of the season series involve an odd number of games (3 or 5), one game in each of such series does not count in the tally of points-earned for the purposes of the season series tie-breaker. (Obviously, I hope, the games count in every other non-season-series-tie-breakery way…)

To clarify: if two teams — say, the Kings and Chicago — play an odd number of games during the season (they play 3, 2 of which they’ve completed), then one of the teams plays an extra home-game (while the other plays an extra road game). This is seen as unfair (home games are seen as beneficial). So the rule states that the tie-breaker does not count the first game played at the arena which hosts more games between those two teams over the course of the season. In the example of LA and CHI, the Hawks get the extra home game, so the first of the two games in Chicago (played last week) simply doesn’t count. As a result, the Kings are only 2 points down in the season series, instead of 4.

Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue at all, since normally, in an 82 game season, the Kings play an even number of home and away games against each team. Not so, this year. Let’s look:

  • PHX — 2 home, 3 away; first road game (which the Kings won) doesn’t count. 
  • DAL — 3 home, 2 away; first home game (not yet played) doesn’t count.
  • SJS, ANA — four games each. No issue.
  • STL — 1 home, 2 away; first road game (which the Kings won) doesn’t count.
  • COL — 2 home, 1 away; first home game (not yet played) doesn’t count, but the one road game (which the Kings lost) counts. 
  • CBJ — 2 home, 1 away; first home game (which the Kings won) doesn’t count, but the road win counts. 
  • CGY — 2 home, 1 away; first home game (not yet played) doesn’t count, but the road win counts.
  • MIN — 1 home, 2 away; first road game (not yet played) doesn’t count.
  • EDM — 1 home, 2 away; first road game (which the Kings lost in OT) doesn’t count. Second road game, which the Kings won, counts. 
  • CHI — 1 home, 2 away; first road game (which the Kings lost) doesn’t count. But the home loss counts.
  • DET — 1 home, 2 away; first road game (which the Kings lost) doesn’t count.
  • NAS — 2 home, 1 away; first home game (which the Kings lost in OT) doesn’t count. The road game, which the Kings also lost, counts. 
  • VAN — 2 home, 1 away; first home game (which the Kings won in SO) doesn’t count.

So, we’re only down 2 points (not 4) to CHI, and down 2 (not 3) to NAS. And we’re only up 2 (instead of 4) against each of EDM and CBJ. And it’s as though we haven’t yet played PHX, STL, or VAN (all of whom we beat), or DET (who beat us).

And it also occurs to me that the fact that ten of the season series are in effect reduced to two games makes it much more likely that the season series tie-breaker will be a draw. Which in turn makes goal-differential (the subsequent tie-breaker) much more significant this year.

Curiouser and curiouser.