Jun 13, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez (27) celebrates with teammates after scoring the game-winning goal against the New York Rangers during the second overtime period in game five of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Should the NHL Change the OT/SO Format?

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If the NHL held only playoff games season round, it would be the most watched sport in North America.

The Big Four leagues in North America are the NHL, MLB, NFL and NBA. In terms of playoff excitement, I would rank them like this: 1)NHL     2)NFL     3)NBA     4)MLB.

Hockey is unique to the other three when it comes to the playoffs. Each and every game, from opening night of the Quarter Finals to the Stanley Cup-winning night, are suspenseful and highly entertaining. No kidding: I find the Quarter Finals of the NHL Playoffs more entertaining than the NBA Finals. More than any of the Big Four, hockey switches to a new gear come playoff time.

Above all, overtime in the NHL Playoffs is unlike overtime in any other sport. And oh boy — when we see overtime hockey in the playoffs, it’s magic.

Do you want more of this?

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzN3ahO5C9E]

 

Hockey is a team game and a game designed around the team. Ten skaters and two goalies is the what the Hockey Gods had in mind. It’s the best and most sensible way to determine the outcome of a game. After the 04-05 NHL lockout, the league introduced a new way to settle games beyond a tie. The shootout.

The shootout was the biggest of many efforts to regain some of the fan base and credibility the league had lost due to the season-long work stoppage. It took away ties — there had to be a winner and a loser. Placing one player at centre ice to stare down one goalie was the ultimate spectacle and became hugely received among fans. It introduced a part of the game that was seldom seen. One-on-one penalty shots was a great way to jack up the entertainment level of the game. But it’s been nine years now, and I’m thinking maybe it’s not as exciting as it used to be.

I’m thinking the NHL should further delay the shootout by prolonging overtime.

I am a hockey fan in the most traditional sense. That being said, I support adjustment, change, and ways to keep improving the game. A one-on-one showdown in a shootout is indeed entertaining. However, there are a couple problems I have with it.

  • It’s not always an accurate representation of skill
  • It can be ended very quickly, without much of a show
  • Phony climactic moment
  • Dulls the pace of the game

Overtime is exciting because it is a build up of anticipation, anxiousness and spilled beer to big one deciding moment. Five minutes is not enough time to let the game be decided the original way. Now, I realize the league cannot elimate the shootout all together for a pair of reasons: One, going back to ties is not an option; two, in an 82-game schedule players can’t be going into multiple overtimes every night.

My solution to reducing the amount of shootouts and replacing them with more overtime hockey, is extending overtime to 8 minutes. In addition to that change, I would make it 5-5 rather than 4-4.

Having the extra time played out with twelve guys on the ice, the way it’s supposed to be, is what I want. Expanding overtime will reduce the number of games decided in a shootout.

Overtime hockey in the playoff is gold dust for viewers; it’s the cream of the NHL’s crop. I think it would bring the same craze of entertainment and suspense during the regular season if the league would make the appropriate rule adjustments. I certainly want to see more overtime hockey. It is the most exciting way for a game to end.

Read: The AHL Rule Changes for 2014-2015

How about you?

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