Last night, after a scoreless game through three periods, the Islanders and Capitals went into overtime. Since the start of the 2015-2016 season, the league has done five-minute overtime periods at three on three.
At first, they were super fun. It was high-flying and a ton of offensive chances for either side. The perfect example is this game between the Bruins and the Rangers from a couple of years ago.
Each team had multiple chances, the Rangers had six shots on goals. It was genuinely a fun and entertaining five-minute frame.
Well now, this is almost completely gone from the game. The new strategy is to play keep away, make the other team tired, and maybe catch them on a long shift or on a change. Last night was the perfect example of that.
You couldn’t find a more boring three-on-three than what we saw last night. The Islanders held the puck for nearly the entirety of the five minutes and got one shot off. Washington also got just one shot off.
Two shots in five minutes of game time is not nearly enough for me. So what’s the solution now that coaches have seemed to figure out the three on three?
I understand the league can’t do sudden death like in the playoffs, and taking out the shootout (which also stinks) takes away any incentive of trying in overtime if both teams finish with a point at the end of OT. So it’s a difficult ask for what the league should do.
Here’s what my solution would be. Shootout goes away, it’s a skills competition and shouldn’t be used to decide an outcome. Instead, they go back to four-on-four overtime for five minutes. If the four on four ends without a goal, each team gets a point.
If there is a goal, then the winner is awarded two points and the loser finishes with zero. That way, there is still incentive especially if you are playing a division rival and can make it you getting two points and them getting none.
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The three-on-three was fun for a while, but now it’s basically just waiting for something to develop and not much action. Let us know your solutions in the comments.