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Does the Current NHL Point System Influence Game Play?

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Zach Shearin, Presenting his Research at the 2017 IISE Regional Conference

Zach Shearin, an undergraduate Industrial and Management Engineering student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a die-hard Carolina Hurricanes fan, used analytics to analyze the National Hockey League’s point system through an operations research and statistical analysis lens.  This work started as Zach’s project for my Operations Research Methods (ISYE 4600) course.  He then continued research and analysis as an undergraduate researcher.  The NHL’s current point system awards more total points to games ending in overtime than games ending in regular time.  In this work, we evaluate if this a fair system, and if it influences style of game.  We find that the current point system results in statistically more passive play in the last five minutes of regulation for an even-score game than the first fifty-five because both teams want to ensure at least one point. The “3-2-1-0” point system minimizes discrepancies with win-loss record, and does not compromise the competitiveness and entertainment of the game and is recommended.  Zach presented this research at the 2017 Regional Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineering Conference, which earned him a second place finish.  We have submitted this work to the 2018 IISE Conference; our submitted conference paper can be downloaded here: [Shearin and Pazour, NHL Point System Fairness Optimization and Game Play Stat Analysis].

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