TSN insider Bob McKenzie reported this evening that the NHL Board of Governors will be voting on whether to adopt a new 5 minute, 3-on-3 overtime format for regular season games.
Pending B of G approval, NHL will go to 3-on-3 overtime for 5 minutes in regular season games next season.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 24, 2015
McKenzie then took time to clarify a little further:
For those asking, no 4-on-4 OT at all. Right to 3-on-3. 5 minutes sudden death. No goal, it goes to shootout.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 24, 2015
This differs from the current AHL format, in which the first 3 minutes are played at 4-on-4, with 3-on-3 beginning at the first whistle after 3 minutes. So why is the NHL choosing to eliminate 4-on-4? McKenzie continues:
NHLPA was adamantly opposed to AHL-tested model (4 mins of 4 on 4 and 3 mins of 3 on 3) so NHL choice was no change at all or 3 on 3 for 5.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 24, 2015
There you have it.
This is a positive move for me. Though shootouts have some entertainment value, I've never been a fan of them as a method to break a tie. This is a move to see more games end before they reach the shootout, which has to be considered a positive for the league. If only they'd do away with loser points...
A brief look at the results of the AHL's test run shows us that this method is highly effective for avoiding shootouts. As per this NHL.com article:
Of the 922 games played in the AHL through Monday, 224 were extended to overtime. Of those 224 games, 171 were decided in overtime, a 76.3 percent rate; last season, 35.3 percent of the overtime games in the AHL were decided before the shootout. Of the 171 goals scored in overtime this season, 73 of them were scored during the time allotted for 3-on-3 play.
As an Oilers fan I can't help but imagine all the juicy combinations they could send out in these situations. Would they throw Schultz and Klefbom out with Hall? RNH and Eberle out with Marincin? McDavid and Yakupov out with Draisaitl? Who knows, but it definitely seems like a game state the Oilers could take advantage of with their top-end skill. How would you deploy them? For me:
If I were going three forwards - Hall-McDavid-Yakupov first, Pouliot-RNH-Eberle to follow, don't play anyone else
Two forwards, one defenseman - Two of the above with a Klefbom, Marincin, Schultz, Nurse, or Hamilton (please)
One forward, two defensemen - One of the first six with two of the next five. It's not rocket sciences.
I'm also no coach, but I would be risking it all to win the game every single time. Play your best players, and let them win it for you. If they don't, you lose knowing your horses were out there trying. Don't lose the game because you had Matt Hendricks out there to work the walls and kill some time. Besides, playing that way would almost certainly avoid the shootout. With Hall-RNH-Eberle out there, somebody's scoring. How would you play it? Who would you throw out there?