Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Shootouts: Too much of a good thing?

It's seems everyone's aflutter with talk of the shootout today, with Pierre LeBrun of the Canadian Press penning this opus on the shootout specialist, The Globe on Hockey troupe debating the merits of the exercise, and TSN's Darren Dreger analyzing the move Ducks' rookie Ryan Shannon tried on on Sunday night.

But the one thing I wonder, two weeks into the 2006-07 season, is if shootouts are simply having too big of an impact on the standings. There have been 15 of them so far after just 76 games, which means nearly 20 per cent of games are ending in what is essentially a skills competition drill.

Last season in 1,230 games, there were only 145 shootouts — 11.79 per cent of games.

Whether that increase is due to the small sample size, a decrease in scoring or the fact that some teams are playing for shootouts because of their relative success in them, that's difficult to determine.

Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur gets to the heart of all this in LeBrun's piece:
"I understand the entertainment value is huge," said Brodeur, a member of the league's competition committee. "What I'm scared of is that there are so many now, will it lose its glamour as the years go on? The fans love it now but will they in five years?"
Who knows — but my guess is this is something the NHL will look at addressing when that excitement level does wane. Personally, I think a 10-minute overtime session and a change to the standings breakdown (in the manner Eric Duhatschek is suggesting) is the way to go.



At 6:46 p.m., October 17, 2006, Anonymous Julian said...

I think the number has increased because of parity, the closer teams are in skill level, the more likely they are to be tied at the end of the game.

And it's not like this season is the only one where shootout points affected the standings. I don't think it's possible that the affect the standings "too much". Either they exist and and they do affect them, or they don't. Edmonton made the playoffs last year (And I'm an oilers fan, bear in mind) because of the extra point in the shootout.

As long as any points are being given, it's affecting the standings and the playoffs.

At 7:02 p.m., October 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that the overtime session, regardless of how the rest of the game plays out, is almost always the most exciting part of the game. Tossing in 5 more minutes would certainly help to break more ties.

As for the points, 3 for a regulation win would help with teams playing for overtime.

At 7:28 p.m., October 17, 2006, Blogger Jamie Fitzpatrick said...

I wish I could articulate exactly why the shootout leaves me cold. After seeing plenty of them on TV and live (the Q adopted shootouts last year), the best I can say is that it's an okay sideshow. On a busy hockey night I'll sometimes switch to another game and flick back to catch the final, decisive shooters.

I wonder if the media - especially NHL broadcasters - has oversold us on the shootout by insisting that it's more exciting than it really is. (Yes, I know the shootout brings the fans to their feet. Free beer and topless cheerleaders would also bring a stadium to its feet. So I guess that's next.) On Monday, I read a couple of articles that told how exciting it was to see Ryan Shannon of the Ducks try the spin-o-rama in Sunday's shootout. I was watching when he took that shot, and my first thought was, "Get back to me when he does it in a hockey game."

At 8:07 p.m., October 17, 2006, Blogger Wardo said...

Oh man, I don't believe this. Literally seconds after I posted about shootouts, I noticed this article. Why didn't I do this on the weekend like I planned...

My thoughts are, shootouts definitely skew the standings, and teams would be crazy not to develop a shootout specialist.


At 8:33 p.m., October 17, 2006, Anonymous Julian said...

Mudcrutch actually had a post a long while back about why it wouldn't make sense to hold a roster spot or sign a guy specifically for the shootout, it made sense, I wonder if he knows where it is...

Anyway, my semi-serious idea for solving the OT-Tie problem would be to play OT without goalies. Five on five OT, no goalies, it'd last no more than two minutes at the absolute most. It'd be a gimmick, sure, but less of one than the shootout. With the shootout you remove ten of the twelve players on the ice, with this you'd remove two.

And at least it'd look like hockey.

At 8:58 p.m., October 17, 2006, Blogger Nick said...

what about a 4 on 4 overtime period? be it 5 or 10 minutes, 4 on 4 hockey is more exciting than 5 on 5, and since they're actually playing hockey, it's not as arbitrary

At 12:33 a.m., October 18, 2006, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Er, overtime is already four on four, Nick. (You've been in California too long.)

At 9:10 a.m., October 18, 2006, Blogger Jonathon said...

I think what I like best about the shootout is the chance to see somebody totally unexpected taking part and having a chance to win the game for the team. As we saw in Ottawa's 3-2 win last weekend over Montreal, it doesn't always have to be about Alfredsson, Spezza and Heatley, all of whom were deservedly left on the plank.

Regarding Ryan Shannon's attempt the other night, it was a great move and I wouldn't mind seeing someone try something like that (or the Schremp lacrosse shot) in a game situation. I would worry, though, about that player then having to worry about getting mugged on the ice by someone else who thinks he's showboating.

I wouldn't mind awarding three points for a regulation win, to entice teams to go for it. Another idea is to take away one skater after the first half of a 10-minute overtime session. Three-on-three hockey is a pretty popular format in a lot of rec hockey tournaments; you get a lot of open ice and a ton of scoring chances.

At 11:39 a.m., October 18, 2006, Blogger Nick said...

Shit, I forgot. I even watched Buffalo/Detroit the other night play their overtime game. You know what they should do? Have a shootout at the end of a 5 minute overtime. That would really draw the fans!


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