12 August 2011

Overtime - part of a series on the NHL's RDO tests

A great thing Brendan Shanahan has brought to the NHL is the Research, Development, and Organization camp, where they have players experiment with rule changes and get a real idea of how these things might work in practice.

Today's topic: Overtime

My Take:

I am no fan of the shootout, or the collusion point standings right now. I think there was nothing wrong with the standings system the NHL used for seven decades and I don't think tie games are a less legitimate result. Ties are certainly more legitimate than manufacturing a winner in the skills contest.

(I could even make an extreme argument that Overtime isn't even necessary other than in Game 7 of a playoff series, but the world isn't quite ready for that).

Everyone loves playoff overtime, and I dare say I know the reason. It's very simple. They just add periods until one team scores a goal. If travel and long games weren't an issue in the regular season, I wish they could do this format all year.

Before I get on a tirade, I'll just make my point: I wish they could play OT that was a little longer. The Minnesota High School league plays three 17 minute periods followed by an 8 minute overtime (about 1/2 a period. Is it that much to ask to increase NHL OT to 8, 10, or maybe 15 mins before declaring a tie, or having a shootout (if the shootout must be kept safe, rare, and legal)? In any event, I think longer overtimes would lead to more decisions and fewer shootouts, which I think is where my views and the RDO camp overlap.

The ADO Experiments:

*Four minutes of four-on-four, followed by three minutes of 3-on-3

I like this idea because it does make OT longer. I'm not sure about the logistics of this. If essentially there are two OTs, or teams have to reduce the number of players after a stoppage once 4 minutes have expired.

I don't really know how much the number of players in OT matters. It's tough to say because this change was made just a couple seasons before the shootout, and that changes the motivation and psychology of the game a lot.

*Shootouts

There are several ideas on the table about changing the shootout.

Five players: I definitely have a preference for this over the present three player format. This rewards teams that are good beyond their first line. If the NHL must have a shootout, why haven't they done this yet?

Shootout Precedes Overtime: This is interesting. Presumably this means the shootout will take place first, and then overtime will be played. The result of the shootout will stand only if there is no goal scored in OT. This means the team that lost the shootout will be in the role of attacker and the team that won can be content to play for a scoreless overtime.

It just seems to me that it would be odd to see two teams playing two different games, one extremely defensive, one extremely aggressive. (For you soccer fans I have the exact same problem with the "away goals rule" in aggregate series', I'm glad MLS and NASL have stayed away from this idiocy).

Repeat v. new players: I have a slight preference for using new players if a shootout is tied after 5 players, again because I think rewarding the deeper team is more consistent with successful teams during regular play, but that's not to deny the excitement of having players that may have already failed being called on to succeed (and vice versa), both are going to be tested at Camp Shanny.

Next topic: Goals and Goaltenders (in retrospect this should've been the first topic)



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