NHL changing overtime format

Billy Peterson

Staff Writer

The Major League Baseball regular season is in its final stretch, and a number of teams are battling it out for the second wild card position in the American League for the fourth season. Like with every change, there are some flaws with the additional wild card being added, the biggest one being that the two wild card teams play a one-game playoff to decide who moves on.

Let’s face it, the Phillies have beaten all five postseason-bound National League teams, including a second half road sweep of the Cubs. It’s been well documented that any team can win on any given day. This is the reasoning for the many that have issues with the second wild card playoff format.

With all that said, the returns on the second wild card have been mostly positive. A prime example is the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs have the third best record in the MLB but under the old format, they would actually miss the playoffs. A season ago, the World Series champion San Francisco Giants got into the playoffs because of the second wild card.

Now, the NHL is taking a stab at making a change that will dramatically change the sport. While it is not a change that will take place at the playoff level, it very much so will affect who gets there.

Starting this fall, the NHL will be changing its overtime format from four-on-four play to three-on-three. This is one of the more significant changes the game has made since the lockout in 2004 because it will change the result of many games.

Often times since the shootout has been implemented, teams would sit back hoping for a shootout. Many overtimes were just mellow and very bad hockey in general. The other problem was the extra point given out in shootouts. A skills competition is a bad way to determine a winner in any sport. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but you wouldn’t end an MLB game after the 12th inning with a home run derby, or an NBA game with a dunk contest, or an NFL game with a kicking competition.

The shootout can really provide skewed results, and we’ve seen teams sneak into the playoffs because they had a superior shootout record. At the same time, we’ve seen teams miss the playoffs by a point or two because they had awful shootout records.

The implementation of the shootout will not get rid of the shootout for good, but it should significantly cut down the number of them. Even better than that, it will bring great excitement to the overtime period which had become rather stale.

In the few instances where regulation play brings about three-on-three, it is always exciting to watch with both teams going back and forth exchanging high quality scoring chances.

I believe, like the second wild card team in the MLB, that this will be a very positive change. It is always difficult for a sport to make a change of this magnitude, but from what we have seen, the results have been great.

Only time will tell if this will be a good change for the NHL, but no matter what, it will bring a lot of excitement to the overtime period.

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