With the NHL’s Research and Development camp a week behind us, I have come to realize that what I feel is the most pressing issue in the NHL was not even addressed.
Once again, it is time for me to comment about overtime games being worth three points while regulation games are only worth two points. This time I have a little different take on the subject as a result of what was done at last weeks camp.
One of the more popular experiments at the R&D camp was the addition of five minutes of three on three hockey after the initial five minutes of four on four play in order to avoid as many games being decided with a shootout. There was also a piece where the goalies would change ends for overtime in order to bring the “long change” into play which historically has led to more scoring in the second period of games. This move would also be done to cut down the number of shoot out games.
While I like both of these suggestions, I feel that changing the points system to three points for a regulation win and a 2/1 split of points in overtime and shootouts would bring more of what fans desire into the game than anything else and it would require no on-ice changes. As it currently stands, when a game is tied past the 10:00 mark of the third period, you see many teams act like a turtle and suck back into a defensive minded, low risk scheme, in order to get to overtime and take home at least a point for evening’s effort.
Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz is a brilliant tactician and is the master of shutting down the opponent, not only at the end of the game, but also in overtime because he likes his chances in the shootout with Pekka Rinne in net. Conversely, if all games were worth three points, and a team was playing a conference rival, a completely different mindset would exist at the same 10:00 minute mark.
With a chance to put an extra three points on a lead over an opponent or the chance to make up three points in the standings, you would see the equivalent of playoff hockey as the clock wound down in a tie game. This would kill two birds with the same stone. You would have fewer games decided in a shootout and you would see the addition of playoff style hockey throughout the season.
While I really like this idea, I don’t see it being adopted simply because the league likes the fact that the current system rewards mediocre teams and allows them to stay in the hunt for a playoff slot further into the season. Commissioner Gary Bettman has repeated this reasoning each time he has been askedin recent years.
This week’s change in the tie-breaker rules to not include shootout wins was merely an appeasement to folks that think as I do and is a clear signal that nothing of substance will change in the point totals any time in the near future. Unfortunately, the NHL is missing an opportunity to bring more action into the game and have fewer games end up being decided in a one-on-one skills competition.