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Adjusted Winning Percentage
One of the reasons people keep track of sports statistics is so that a comparison can be made between current players and teams and those from the past. The problem is that things change.
No one would argue that the Canucks' 48 points in 1994-95 made it as bad a season as their 48 points in 1971-72. In 1971-72 the Canucks played 78 games and finished dead last in the NHL while in 1994-95 they played 48 games and made the playoffs. Things change.
Starting in 1999-2000, the NHL changed the rules, giving teams a single point for losing in overtime. This may encourage teams to play more offensively in overtime, but it also skews team point totals upwards. In 1999-2000, 114 points were awarded for overtime losses (also known as regulation ties). This works out to about 4 points per team over the course of the season. In 2000-01, an extra 122 points were handed out (again about 4 points per team). Is a team that finished with 86 points in 2000-01 really better than a team that got 82 points in 1998-99? No.
Consider the Vancouver Canucks record against the Minnesota Wild in 2000-01. The Canucks earned six points in five games. To calculate a winning percentage, we take the points earned (6) and divide it by the number of games played times two (5*2 = 10). This makes the Canucks' winning percentage 6/10 or .600. Don't ask me why winning percentages are expressed as a decimal.
In previous seasons, we could logically conclude that the Canucks did better than the Wild in games between the two teams. However, if we look more closely at the game results, we would find that the Wild also earned six points. So their winning percentage against the Canucks is also .600. Based on the old standard winning percentage, the Canucks did better than the Wild AND the Wild did better than the Canucks. Impossible.
On this site, some pages will refer to an Adjusted Winning Percentage and it works based on the fact that overtime wins are not as good as regulation time wins while overtime losses are not as good as ties. Let's face it. When you lose in overtime, you may earn a point, but your opponent earns two points. Can you honestly say that you did as well as them and therefore deserve a .500 winning percentage. Similarly, you may earn two points for an overtime win, but you do not deserve a 1.000 winning percentage because you let your opponent have a point.
In order to more fairly compare current stats with earlier stats, the following formula is used. Regulation wins are worth 2 points, overtime wins are worth 1 1/3 points, ties are worth 1 point, overtime losses are worth 2/3 point and regulation losses are worth 0 points. Fractions do not scare me.
The logic behind this is relatively simple. If you win in overtime, you receive 2 out of 3 points awarded in that game (the losing team gets the third point). To compare this to a regular game where two points are awarded, the formula is 2/3 of 2 or 1 1/3. The losing team receive 1/3 of 2 or 2/3 of a point.
Now, if we were to compare the Canucks and Wild, the Canucks won one game in regulation time (2 points), won one game in overtime (1 1/3 points), tied one game (1 point), lost one game in regulation time (0 points) and lost one game in overtime (2/3 point). Add these up and you get a total of 5 points in 5 games, which gives an adjusted winning percentage of .500. Now, we can conclude -- correctly -- that the Canucks and Wild finished the season evenly.
copyright © 2001-2010 David Marchak
This page last updated July 09, 2010