3-on-3 Overtime Hockey on the Way?

Posted November 20, 2013

But if there are fewer shootouts, Mikhail Grabovski won’t be able to do his spinning shootout move as often (as he did on Michal Neuvirth a few years ago). 

At last week’s NHL general manager’s meeting, the GMs tossed around the the idea of changing the NHL overtime system in order to prevent as many games from ending in a shootout. With 44 of the first 272 games ending with a shootout this season, many view that the shootout is playing too pivotal of a role in the playoff picture.

There were a few ideas tossed around including expanding the overtime to a 10-minute period. An expansion of the period is a change that has to happen. A five-minute period is inadequate, especially when it involves two great defensive teams. Why should the overtime period be only one-quarter of standard period length?

There was also discussion involving whether or not to play 10 minutes of four-on-four or five minutes of four-on-four along with five minutes of 3-on-3.

 Critics of 3-on-3 format say it takes away from the tradition of 5-on-5 or even 4-on-4.

In my opinion, 3-on-3 would be an interesting twist and would test the league’s top-tier players with more space on the ice to make stuff happen.  While 3-on-3 is not the formal way to play the sport, what’s wrong with shaking the game up a bit? It is at least provides a better game situation than the shootout does.

Ideally, I would like to see the NHL keep the 4-on-4 format for the first five or 10 minutes of overtime. If the game can not be decided in that fashion, then instead of defaulting to just a  shootout, the teams should play 3-on-3 for the remainder of the period. If on the off chance, neither team scores with the 3-on-3, then they should go to a shootout. It is not so much about ridding of the shootout but just making it a rare occurrence.

Although no changes are set in stone at last Tuesday’s meeting, many believe this discussion will pick up once again at the meetings in March.

When you look at the Capitals success in shootouts this season, which has led them to a solid 5-1 record, you wonder wonder how their 12-8-1 overall record would look if their shootout wins were decided in 4-on-4 or a 3-on-3 format. With the Caps in second place in the Metropolitan division and approximately 41 percent of the team’s victories decided in shootout this year, where would they be in the standings with a changed overtime format?