The NHL instituted the coaches challenge
and the new 3 on 3 overtime format this year.
By most accounts, it seems that the latter was a very popular decision,
even going as far as NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly saying that he expects
the new format to return next year. The 3 on 3 is popular with most coaches and
players. I say most accounts because some goalies might not be too excited to
give up more shots and goals, even though it doesn’t count against their
While there is something to be said for
the fun and flair of the shootout, the overtime has now become just as
entertaining. Obviously, the shootout is just a breakaway pitting player
against goaltender, but the great thing about the 3 on 3 is that there are
still lots of breakaways along with everything else - including penalties,
giveaways, passing and rebounds. That
being said more games are being decided in overtime this year than in the
shootout. Last year, using the 4 on 4 format, after 740 games there were 186
games that went into overtime and only 84 ended there, that’s 45.2% of games.
This year, in the new 3 on 3 format, 171 games have gone to overtime so far and
109, or 63.7%, were decided before the shootout.
As previously mentioned, with more games
being decided in overtime so far this year, there will be some teams that will
embrace the 3 on 3 format more than others. The Chicago Blackhawks are at the
top of the list, and understandably so because they are one of the top teams in
the league. However, they also have extremely talented open ice players which
is key in the new overtime. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith all
play very fast and very effectively in the open ice. This is key (as well as a
good goaltender obviously) for success in overtime. Other teams that are winning in overtime use
these same principles. Teams like the Calgary Flames who have 8 overtime wins
are using Sean Monahan and one-man-overtime-wrecking-crew Johnny Gaudreau in
similar capacities on the open ice.
On the other end of the spectrum we have
teams like Columbus, Toronto and Anaheim. Anaheim is a talented team that is in
a scoring drought right now and they do have talented players such as Corey
Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler but they aren’t as dynamic. With bigger,
slower players they cannot use the open ice in the way that other teams
capitalize on. The same goes for Columbus and Toronto, however these two teams
are at the bottom of the NHL standings as well.
The NHL’s new 3 on 3 overtime experiment
seems to be passing with flying colors. The players get to stretch their legs
and their passes to create lots of scoring chances. If the format stays this way, and it looks
like it will, then some teams may have to re-tool their roster to allow for
faster, more offense-driven, skilled players.
For the fans, they get exciting end to end rushes, big saves and if no
one scores, they still get the great entertainment of a shootout. Most players
and coaches love the 3 on 3 overtime format, but let’s face it, the fans love
it and that’s what it’s all about.
Labels: Graham Thurgood